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Have you carried out a fire risk assessment recently in your workplace?
Let FIREINF guide you to quality advice and information

Sheila Pantry OBE
October 2009

A fire risk assessment will help you determine the chances of a fire occurring and the dangers from fire that your workplace poses for the people who use it. The assessment method suggested shares the same approach as that used in general health and safety legislation and can be carried out either as part of a more general risk assessment or as a separate exercise.

Take time to prepare for your assessment and plan how you will go about your assessment.

A risk assessment is not a theoretical exercise. However, much work can be done on paper from the knowledge you, your employees or their representatives have of the workplace. A tour of the workplace will be needed to confirm, amend or add detail to your initial views.

For fire risk assessments there are five steps that you need to take:

Step 1
Identify potential fire hazards in the workplace.
Step 2
Decide who (e.g. employees, visitors) might be in danger, in the event of a fire, in the workplace or while trying to escape from it, and note their location.
Step 3
Evaluate the risks arising from the hazards and decide whether your existing fire precautions are adequate or whether more should be done to get rid of the hazard or to control the risks (e.g. by improving the fire precautions).
Step 4
Record your findings and details of the action you took as a result. Tell your employees about your findings.
Step 5
Keep the assessment under review and revise it when necessary.

Nobody knows as much about your business as you and the people who work with and for you. Try to use your own knowledge and experience and that of your colleagues and staff. Talk to your employees and listen to their concerns. The safety representative (if there is one) and your employees will have a valuable contribution to make. They can help you identify key issues and may already have practical suggestions for improvements.

Proper planning of your assessment, and any changes necessary because of it, includes consulting the workforce and their representatives. This can help ensure that any changes are introduced more easily and accepted more readily. However, remember that risk assessment is essentially a matter of applying informed common sense. You need to identify what could reasonably be expected to cause danger. Ignore the trivial and concentrate on significant hazards.

It is important that you carry out your fire risk assessment in a practical and systematic way. It must take the whole of the workplace into account, including outdoor locations and any rooms and areas which are rarely used. If your workplace is small you may be able to assess the workplace as a whole. In larger buildings, you will often find it helpful to divide the workplace into rooms or a series of assessment areas using natural boundaries, e.g. process areas, offices, stores, workshops as well as corridors, stairways and external routes.

If your workplace is in a building shared with other employers, you and all the occupiers will need to discuss the implications.

Time is precious and many people are really stretched in their jobs and find it difficult to keep ahead in current knowledge that they should have for their jobs. But help is at hand for those working in health, safety and fire and fire related industries.

FIREINF www.fireinf.com is the world's premier collection of validated, authoritative fire and fire related information. It now contains 17 databases and around 529,000 records and covers two major collections.

FIREINF Full Text Collection databases containing thousands of pages of full text information and The Bibliographic Collection has databases contain records to journal articles, guidance and advice, circulars, reports, conference proceedings, research reports, statistics and codes of practice from worldwide sources, all of which may be easily accessed. One database from the British Standards Institution BSI - contains references to over 4300 fire and fire related standards and another BSI database contains references to security related standards.

This long established collection started in 1997 as Fire Worldwide and over the years has been rapidly expanding. From 2007 the collection continued to expand with the new software and host platform as FIREINF and aims to help all those seeking information on all aspects of fire, emergency and preparedness management principles, fire risk assessment, good practices and research.

FIREINF is continuously enlarged as new information is published and is used by organisations worldwide.

For a 15 DAY FREE NO OBLIGATION TRIAL contact: Sheila Pantry Associates Ltd | email: sp@sheilapantry.com | or fill in the Interest form www.sheilapantry.com/interest.html


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Worldwide, plans have been made already up to 2010 to have training courses, symposiums and conferences in many places in the world on a wide range of subjects. Look at the latest additions to the Diary of Events. Don't forget to budget for these events - make sure that you and your colleagues are up-to-date with the very latest knowledge - remember that all workplaces and those working in them change, so continue to do your risk assessments.

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The Focus this month looks at the hot topic - Fit for work? Musculoskeletal Disorders in the European Workforce.

Most information services have a reference shelf where you can quickly check the reference sources - so OSHWORLD brings you a collection of Reference sources.

Click onto the various Bookshops to order any new document as they are being published. Bookshops have a constant stream of new titles available.

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Don't work harder - work smarter! Be ahead of the game.

Are you having a zero accident, incident-free and healthy year in 2009 in your workplace? Some would argue that this is not possible! But keep on trying!

And do continue to make plans for your campaigns for 2010 and beyond!