A Guide to Risk Assessments in the Workplace

It’s a legal requirement for every business to have a fire risk assessment in place. According to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, every company that employs five or more people must have a written record of a fire risk assessment outlining potential fire hazards and a plan of action should a blaze occur on the premises. 

Fire risk assessments play a fundamental role in the overall fire safety of every organisation, and it’s vital that business owners and property managers are fully aware of what is necessary to include in one. This is the best way to ensure that everyone on your premises is protected, and you’re not liable if a fire does occur.

With this in mind, the team here at Millennium Fire Protection has put together an extensive guide of risk assessments in the workplace, providing you with a thorough explanation of what to include and how they work.  


What is a fire risk assessment?

First and foremost, it’s important to understand exactly what a fire risk assessment is. A fire risk assessment is all about understanding the potential fire risks your company poses, mitigating these risks and improving fire safety procedures to keep people and the property safe. 

If you’re wondering who is responsible for carrying out fire risk assessments, it’s the responsibility of the property or business owner to either carry out the assessment themselves, or appoint a ‘responsible person’ to do so on the organisation’s behalf. Whatever the case, if a risk assessment is not conducted and a fire does occur, your insurance could be invalidated and criminal charges could be brought against you if injury, or worse, occurs to anyone on the premises at the time.      

The government outlines five key areas that must make out a fire risk assessment. These are:

  • Identify the fire hazards 
  • Identify people at risk
  • Evaluate, remove or reduce risks
  • Record your findings, prepare an emergency plan and provide training 
  • Review and update the fire risk assessment regularly 

This article will explore each of these areas, and explain how you can have an effective fire risk assessment in place. 

What’s included in a fire risk assessment?

The first thing that should be included in a fire risk assessment is the various fire risks that your property poses. This will be different depending on the sector you work in, with some organisations facing more fire risks than others. However, whatever type of business you work in, your fire risk assessment should include reference to the following: 

  • Potential sources of ignition – naked flames, heaters or anything that uses heat or flames  
  • Potential sources of fuel – this includes any material that can be considered flammable, such as waste materials, textiles, cardboard, overstocking material and more 
  • Potential sources of oxygen – anything that provides an increased flow of oxygen, such as a commercial air supply like air conditioning units.   

Secondly, the risk assessment should include information on everyone on your premises who may be at risk, with particular care taken to identify vulnerable individuals. This includes:

  • Disabled people
  • People who are unfamiliar with the premises – seasonal workers, visitors etc
  • People who work alone 
  • Children and young people
  • Elderly people or those with mobility issues 
  • Those with language difficulties    

What to do after a fire risk assessment 

Once you’ve identified the potential fire hazards and people at risk, your fire risk assessment should first evaluate these risks. This involves taking close look at your operations and thinking of ways to reduce those risks. For example, can you make storage areas more safe? Is all your electrical equipment correctly maintained? Does your smoking policy need to be changed? All of these things can help make your business safer.   

Furthermore, you can also evaluate other fire safety systems, such as fire detection and early warning systems, evacuation routes, fire extinguishers and more to ensure you have the appropriate precautions in place to conduct a swift and safe evacuation if a fire does break out.

All fire risk assessments should be recorded and be accessible should you or anyone else need to refer to them. The next step can also help you prepare an emergency plan, tailored specifically to your organisation. This can involve training staff members where appropriate, and giving fire marshals advanced training if necessary.  

How often should fire risk assessments be reviewed? 

Finally, risk assessments should be reviewed and updated regularly. An annual review should be carried out by your ‘responsible person’ and we’d recommend having a professional fire risk assessment every three to four years.  

But you shouldn’t just wait for these milestones to update risk assessments. Every time a significant change happens, you should consider updating the risk assessment. This can include changes to the structure of your building, if new hazardous substances are being kept on site, if you hire vulnerable staff members and much more. 

At Millennium Fire Protection, our team of fire safety experts has over 50 years of combined experience. We offer specialist fire safety equipment and systems that are designed to protect commercial organisations in a whole host of sectors. This includes offering fire risk assessments to companies, helping keep people protected and ensuring you meet all your legal obligations. Contact our team today to find out more.