Perhaps the phrase ‘fire risk assessments’ brings an image to mind of someone fussily walking along with clipboard and making notes that may subsequently be safely filed in the nearest available bin.
If so, that would be a mistaken perception that may give rise to dangerous complacency and lost opportunities.
The law of the land and health and safety regulations do not find fire to be an amusing subject. There are many reasons for that, not the least of which is that every year it kills significant numbers of people unnecessarily.
In fact, so seriously does the law take corporate responsibility in these areas that in 2007 the new offence of corporate manslaughter was written onto the statute books. Any company that, following a major incident resulting in death, is found to be neglectful in its duty to conduct its affairs safely may find itself prosecuted under this and other legislation.
The penalties may be severe.
It may, therefore, be highly advisable for any organisation to be sure that it is fully compliant with all appropriate regulations and laws.
Leaving aside the potentially punitive legal action that may arise, few owners or senior executives of companies would like to think that they are doing anything other than taking very seriously the safety of others around them.
Yet sometimes it is not always easy to understand what the law demands or what current best professional practice suggests as the most appropriate course of action.
Some business leaders and safety officers may also be unaware as to whether or not all areas of their organisation are fully complying with their own internal policies and procedures relating to fire prevention etc.
Fire risk assessments
There are professional risk audit and management companies that specialise in the many different strands of health and safety at work. They have the skills necessary to look at an organisation and identify where real physical risk exists and where there is non-compliance with the law.
One specific component of their activity is to produce fire risk assessments aimed at helping the leadership level of the company understand where action is required.
It is difficult to overemphasise the importance of this type of fire audit.
Many companies may sincerely believe that they have done everything within their power to make their premises safe and have presumed therefore, that they must be complying with legislation.
Unfortunately, the law may not recognise ‘best endeavours’ or sincerity. It will be more focused on the exact nature of any failures to comply with legislation.
The only way to be sure that the organisation is both safe and compliant with legislation is through professionally conducted fire risk assessments.