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Step 3 - Evaluating the risks

Once the hazards and the persons at risk have been recorded, you must assess the effect of any particular hazard on the occupants of the workplace, taking account of any existing control measures that are already in place. Once this has been done, you must decide if any further control measures are needed in order to reduce the risk to an acceptable level.

Further control measures may act to reduce the possibility of ignition, minimise the potential fuel load in the workplace, or assist persons to escape from the effects of a fire, should it occur.

They may fall into a number of different categories:

  • Fire safety management systems.
  • Means of escape.
  • Staff training.
  • Fire warning systems.
  • Means of fighting fire.

Different control measures can be applied to reduce the risk to an acceptable level. For example, if the risk is the possibility of a fast growing fire, potential control measures could include one or any combination of the following:

  • changing the process to use a slower burning fuel
  • removing all possible ignition sources
  • moving the hazard to an area that affects the minimum of persons, e.g. outside the premises
  • providing an additional exit/protected route to speed the escape of the occupants
  • providing a fire detection and alarm system to warn persons of the fire in its early stages
  • training the staff to reduce the possibility of a fire occurring, e.g. housekeeping/safe working, practices or
  • providing appropriate firefighting equipment / fixed installation e.g. sprinkler system.

While this list is not exhaustive and applies to one area of risk only, it can be seen that there may be a number of different solutions depending on the nature of the situation.

If any areas of inadequacy are identified, an action plan must to be included to show how the problem is being addressed. This should include time scales for achieving the required level of control and specify who is responsible for the action.

If your workplace is situated in a relatively modern building it should already incorporate important control measures that were installed to meet the requirements of the Building Regulations e.g. fire escape staircases, fire lobbies, fire doors, emergency lighting etc. Many of these measures will also be found in older buildings.

You should include details of these existing control measures in your fire risk assessment. Remember, a full understanding and evaluation of the existing control measures is essential - it is your starting point for deciding if any further action is necessary.