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Fire Risk Assessment Guide & Checklist for the Retail Industry

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Elite Fire EngineerThis guide has been specifically written for all employers, managers, owners and occupiers of premises within the retail industry. This includes all privately-owned shops and stores, such as clothes shops, newsagents, supermarkets and home furnishing stores, and is also applicable to individual outlets within retail complexes.

Developed to further your understanding of fire safety and the laws you must adhere to, this guide offers specialists advice on how to conduct a fire risk assessment. It also includes an assessment checklist tailored for the retail industry, making the process of legal compliance as smooth and simple as possible.

The Law

Fire Safety Order 2005If you own or manage a shop, it is crucial you’re familiar with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The leading piece of fire safety legislation in England and Wales, the Order has been developed to protect people from the threat of fire whilst in commercial and public-access environments and, as such, you have a legal obligation to comply with it.

The Order stipulates that each environment nominates a ‘responsible person’ who is then in charge of ensuring all fire safety rules are followed. In a retail environment, the ‘responsible person’ will usually be the owner or manager. If there is more than one ‘responsible person’ in your premises (such as in a shopping centre or retail complex) you must all take steps to co-operate with each other and co-ordinate your fire safety measures.

One of the main duties of the ‘responsible person’ is to make sure a full fire risk assessment is carried out. This will involve identifying and assessing the risks and hazards within your environment and then removing or reducing these risks and hazards as far as is possible. This will often include installing and maintaining fire safety equipment, training relevant staff and preparing and practicing a fire evacuation plan.

Conducting a Fire Risk Assessment – 5 Steps

fire risk assessmentAccording to Government guidance, there are five steps involved in a fire risk assessment and this guide details each one below.

When undertaking a risk assessment, it is recommended that you divide your retail environment into separate areas (such as the shop floor, changing rooms, store room, office and staff areas, for example) as this can make the process much more manageable.

#1 Identify the fire hazards

Firstly, you must identify the fire hazards within your shop or retail environment. This means looking for ignition, fuel and oxygen sources.

#2 Identify people at risk

Then, you need to identify the people at risk. This includes all the staff who work within your shop, as well as any customers or visitors. It is also important to pay close attention to those who may be more vulnerable in an emergency, such as people with a disability, children and the elderly.

#3 Evaluate, remove and reduce the risks

Once all the hazards within your retail environment have been identified, you must evaluate the risk of a fire occurring and the threat it would pose to all the people who work within or frequent your premises. You must then do everything possible to remove or reduce the risks.

This step includes putting safety measures in place. You will need to install fire safety equipment (such as fire alarms, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting and safety signage) and ensure periodic testing and maintenance is conducted.

#4 Record, plan, inform, instruct and train

Once you have completed the above steps (and as long as more than five people are employed within your retail environment) the findings must be recorded. You should detail the hazards identified and the remedial action which has been undertaken as a result. You should also prepare an emergency evacuation plan and ensure all employees are aware of this procedure.

In addition, to fully comply with every aspect of the Order, all the relevant people within your shop (such as the staff and customers) should be informed and instructed on fire safety plans and procedures. This is normally achieved through staff fire safety training, as well as installing fire safety signs and notices for visitors.

#5 Review

You must make sure that your fire risk assessment is regularly reviewed, updating and maintaining it whenever necessary.

Checklist

Our checklist has been compiled to make the process of a risk assessment in your retail environment as straight-forward as possible. It is in line with all Government advice and covers each step of a risk assessment for full legal compliance.

#1 What are the fire hazards within your shop?

  • Make a note of anything within your retail environment which could start a fire (such as lighting, electrical equipment and heaters).
  • Make a note of anything within your retail environment which could burn (such as paper, clothing and soft furnishings).

#2 Who is at risk within your shop?

  • Make a note of anyone who could be at risk within your retail environment, especially anyone who may be more vulnerable in an emergency situation.

#3 How will you keep people safe within your shop?

  • Ensure fuel and heat sources are kept apart.
  • Assess the risk to staff, customers and visitors.
  • Make a note of anything which could be used to start a fire deliberately.
  • Ensure appliances are tested and maintained (such as computers, lighting installations and electric tills).
  • Install appropriate fire detection and warning equipment.
  • Appoint someone who will be responsible for calling the local Fire and Rescue service.
  • Install appropriate fire-fighting equipment.
  • Make sure there are adequate fire escape routes from every area of your shop.
  • Make sure escape routes are obvious, signed and illuminated.
  • Ensure all fire safety equipment is in full working order and regularly maintained.
  • Make sure measures are in place to inform everyone who works within or visits your shop of what to do and how to use fire safety equipment.

#4 Record, plan and train

  • Remove or reduce each fire risk as far as is possible.
  • Make a note of what has been done to remove or reduce these risks.
  • If there are risks which can’t be removed, make a note of how you plan to deal with these risks.
  • Plan a timeframe for carrying out all necessary fire safety improvements.
  • Inform your retail staff, and any customers and visitors, of what to do in an emergency.
  • Regularly practice a fire drill and record the results.
  • Ensure all your retail staff know how to use fire extinguishers.
  • Make sure all fire safety information – including what to do on discovering a fire and emergency plans and escape routes – is made available and obvious to customers and visitors. This should be in the form of obvious notices and signs placed throughout the shop.

#5 Review and maintain your plan

  • If you make any exterior or interior changes to your retail environment, your plan must be reviewed.
  • If there has been, or almost been, a fire within your retail environment, your plan must be reviewed.
  • If work processes are changed or updated, your plan must be reviewed.
  • After each fire drill, the results should be recorded and your plan updated.

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