Fire Risk Assessment must be in line with the objectives of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993. This act is there to regulate the safety and protection of all employees and visitors to the workplace.
Fire The Friend or Fire The Foe?
Since the beginning of time, man has wanted to make fire, use fire, contain fire, prevent fire and even extinguish fire. Some of the biggest fires in history could have been prevented and lives preserved…had there been adequate measures in place.
What is a fire risk assessment?
A fire risk assessment consists of identifying any hazards and risks in a building and ensuring that systems meet regulatory requirements.
A workplace fire risk assessment can include:
- Survey to check firefighting equipment in place.
- Is the firefighting equipment adequate and properly maintained?
- Does the equipment meet the South African Bureau of Standards requirements
- Are there trained staff on site?
- Are there sufficient escape exits and ventilation?
- Are there regular evacuation drills?
- Are there first aid boxes with adequate signage?
- Are goods stacked or stored to meet legal requirements?
- Are there any gas cylinders or inflammable liquids in the workplace that could pose a risk?
Why is a fire risk assessment important?
Fire risk assessments are important as they ensure a safe working environment for everyone. Carrying out an assessment can help you identify any fire risks within the workplace and allows you to put actions in place to help reduce those risks. Fire risk assessments are also a legal requirement and doing them regularly will assist in helping you meet and maintain all the legal standards and requirements.
What does a Fire Risk Assessment entail?
An inspection must be done by suitably qualified staff (Absolute Health Services can provide this training and certification) or by the Local Authority.
The health and safety teams are usually made up of fire marshals, first aiders, and evacuation marshals, sometimes dual-trained or capable of providing multiple roles in an emergency. A basic understanding of how firefighting equipment functions and its locality will form part of the safety plan.
The team needs to identify the risks and make suggestions or implement actions to prevent or mitigate any incidents.
- Identify the source:
- Where could ignition come from?
- Is there fuel available to make the fire burn?
- Identify persons at risk:
These can be anyone from employees, visitors, the elderly, and persons with disabilities, to contractors or even visitors.
- Evaluate: Remove or Reduce or Protect
- What is the risk of a fire starting?
- What is the risk to the people?
- Based on the above, can you Remove or Reduce the risk?
- How can you protect the people?
- What precautions and training can be provided?
- Record – Plan – Inform – Instruct
- Record your findings
- Discuss your findings with management and team members
- Prepare an incident plan based on your findings
- Inform management and staff
- Review and Implement Plan
- Review the plan regularly in case of any changes
- Make changes or adapt plan as required
On completion of an accurate Fire Risk Assessment, a safe and legally compliant working environment is assured.
Know Fire Safety, No Pain – No Fire Safety, Know Pain
It is highly recommended to have at least one trained staff member on your health and safety team, who is able to do the risk assessment or lead a small group of assessors if required. Suitably trained employees that have done their firefighting course through a reputable and accredited company like Absolute Health Services will be able to assist with OHS procedures, practices, and equipment requirements.
Absolute Health Services are accredited by the Health & Welfare SETA to offer the relevant firefighting courses. These can be delivered on-site as a workplace course for groups of 8 delegates or more, or delegates can train at one of our training centre venues in Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth, or Cape Town.