The Importance of a ‘Suitable and Sufficient’ Fire Risk Assessment

heatherhall By heatherhall, 9th Jun 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/angqmyk2/
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Emergency Preparedness>Fire


Question: Why should I pay for a Fire Safety Risk Assessment by a qualified Risk Assessor when I or one of my team can do it?
Answer: Read the case study below and you may change your mind!!!!

The Importance of a ‘Suitable and Sufficient’ Fire Risk Assessment

Question: Why should I pay for a Fire Safety Risk Assessment by a qualified Risk Assessor when I or one of my team can do it?
Answer: Read the case study below and you may change your mind!!!!

This case study was a prosecution under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which caused some disquiet in safety circles, especially with regards to the size of the penalty imposed.

Background:
The 2nd floor of a fashion retailer in London burst into flames and the fire alarm was activated. Fire brigades were called and more than 400 people were evacuated from the building. Since the accident occurred in a part of Oxford Street, the adjacent stores were also evacuated.

The investigation ran on for almost two years, with the original 35 alleged breaches of the Regulatory Reform Order 2005 eventually reduced to two offences:
• Failure to carry out a suitable and sufficient fire safety risk assessment.
• Failure to have in place adequate training.

The fine:
The retailers found guilty were fined £400,000 (£250k for the risk assessment charge and £150k for the training charge), together with £136,000 in costs. At the time, this represented the largest fine ever imposed in relation to breaches of the Regulatory Reform Order 2005 and was very high vis-à-vis health and safety cases characterised by similar facts, especially as the breaches did not lead to death and were in excess of the figure reserved as a start point for cases of corporate manslaughter.

The rationale:
The subsequent Court of Appeal’s decision to uphold the £400,000 fine gave a clear message that those in control of premises subject to the Regulations cannot afford to dedicate fewer resources to ensuring compliance with fire safety obligations would need to meet health and safety requirements. In essence, the assessment of the seriousness of a breach can now be expected to be made with principal reference to the risk created.

In light of this clear message as to the financial consequences inherent in creating, or neglecting to address, fire safety deficiencies, those with control of premises subject to the Regulations must ensure that their specific obligations have been adequately identified and addressed. Procedures and training policies must be comprehensive, up to date and kept under review if risks are to be guarded against.

The findings:
The above incident revealed that the escape routes of the building were not clearly identified and the retailers failed to implement a safety strategy to protect staff and individuals from risks. The heavy fine handed to the retailers was a clear message from the court that fire safety risk assessments and safety of customers and staff or any person who may be affected should be considered as of paramount importance.

If you have been issued an Enforcement Notice, are unsure if your existing Fire Risk Assessment is ‘Suitable and Sufficient’ or want some Fire Safety advice, just call our Experts on 01689 890879 .

Tags

Fire Risk Assessment London, Fire Safety Risk Assessments

Meet the author

author avatar heatherhall
Heather Hall shares 30 years of practical, sales, marketing, project managing and Fire Safety Co-ordination experience with her clients. Heather has helped people achieve their Fire Safety obligations

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Comments

author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
9th Jun 2015 (#)

Non compliance is more in less developed countries and even the rules are sadly non-existent, forget about enforcing them! When it comes to lives, it is wise to be prudent - siva

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