Most small business owners typically feel responsible for every aspect of their operation.
From customer service, data protection, budgeting, to waste disposal, there will be very few jobs that the owner hasn't had to do themselves at one point or another.
So it's always nice to be able to rely on an expert to come in and take the responsibility off your hands. Right?
When it comes to fire safety, if you employ five people or more, your business will need to undertake a Fire Risk Assessment and you, as the business owner are likely to be the "Responsible Person" who is accountable for compliance with that assessment.
The purpose of the Fire Risk Assessment is to prevent damage, injury and loss of life and is a complete evaluation of your business that takes into account numerous factors from business layout to the storage of combustible materials.
The term "Responsible Person" was a feature introduced with The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 as is defined as follows:
Meaning of “responsible person”
3. In this Order “responsible person” means—
(a)in relation to a workplace, the employer, if the workplace is to any extent under his control;
(b)in relation to any premises not falling within paragraph (a)—
(i)the person who has control of the premises (as occupier or otherwise) in connection with the carrying on by him of a trade, business or other undertaking (for profit or not); or
(ii)the owner, where the person in control of the premises does not have control in connection with the carrying on by that person of a trade, business or other undertaking.
In most businesses, especially small businesses, this is usually, but not exclusively, the business owner. The first job of the nominated Responsible Person is to ensure that the business has undergone a complete and competent Fire Risk Assessment.
While the business owner will typically be the "Responsible Person" in a small business, they are unlikely to have the competence or knowledge to undertake the assessment themselves.
If an employee is named the "Responsible Person", it is still the duty of the business owner to ensure they have the appropriate level of knowledge, experience and competency to fulfill that role.
Hiring an external contractor is the sensible option and this is where the business owner must execute their first crucial role as the Responsible Person in making an informed hire of a Fire Safety professional who is reputable, experienced and qualified.
This decision is crucial, as you cannot simply pass the buck over to whom you hire. If you are the Responsible Person and you hire someone deemed incompetent, then responsibility still falls on you, should injury, loss of life or damage occur due to fire.
The role and responsibility of Fire Safety is a critical role and one that can be nerve-wracking if you are new to this undertaking.
To ensure you receive the required support you need, GEM Security Solutions recommends only hiring Fire Safety Contractors who are BAFE approved.
BAFE is the independent register of quality Fire Safety Service providers, certificated to ensure quality and competence to help meet your fire safety obligations.
“Third-party certification schemes for fire protection products and related services are an effective means of providing the fullest possible assurances, offering a level of quality, reliability and safety that non-certificated products may lack... Third-party quality assurance can offer comfort both as a means of satisfying you that goods and services you have purchased are fit for purpose and as a means of demonstrating that you have complied with the law.”
- GOV.UK Fire Safety Guidance Documents (Quality assurance of fire protection equipment and installation)
GEM is a BAFE accredited company who will support you in managing and carrying out your commitments as the nominated "Responsible Person" to the required standards.
If you are looking to have a Fire Risk Assessment for your business then contact GEM and speak to one of our experts for advice on how you should proceed.
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