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Data-driven risk prediction and guidance


According to demographics, business classification and other information sourced and supplied, our data suggests the following categories of risk are those most likely to require action and improvement:

1. Management of Health and Safety

2. General Fire Safety

3. Electrical Safety

4. Fire Safety in Commercial Kitchens (TR 07)

5. Fire Protection (TR 06b)



The following categories of risk have also been highlighted as potentially requiring action:

Premises Security (TR 09a)

Arson Prevention (TR 01)

Fire Risk Assessment (TR 04)

Flood and Water Damage (TR 10)

Business Continuity Planning (TR 11)

Composite Panel Construction (TR 12)

Public Liability (TR 14)


We recommend three simple steps to follow-up with using this report:


  1. Discuss findings with your insurance broker

  2. Evaluate and tackle any of the risks highlighted

  3. Share outcomes with insurance underwriters


  • Your insurance broker will be able to help you understand what this report is telling you and can guide you as to what you could do next.

  • We strongly recommend you review all of the risks highlighted in this report. A good idea is to create a checklist of compliance - in other words, use this report and the guidance it links to, to decide which aspects you already comply with and which you do not.

  • We then suggest you draw up an action plan covering all areas where you do not comply to ensure all ‘Top 5 Predicted Risks’ and ‘Any other key risks’ are correctly managed.

  • When you are confident that you are compliant with all risks identified, you can work with your insurance broker to share this report with your insurance underwriters. This will help you demonstrate that risks which most commonly impact on your type of organisation are being appropriately managed.


TR 02a Management of Health and Safety

According to the latest data compiled by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), 147 workers were killed at work in 2018/19. Over the same period there were 69,208 employee non-fatal injuries reported by employers under RIDDOR and 581,000 workers sustaining a non-fatal injury according to self-reports from the Labour Force Survey. Also, many workers suffer ill health from workplace exposures.

Against this background it is important that all businesses, irrespective of their size or the activities undertaken, manage health and safety in an effective manner in compliance with legislation. Managing health and safety may at first seem a little daunting, but introducing practices that keep people safe does not always need to be complicated and businesses will not only be safer, but will be better placed to develop and thrive into the future.

Some of the key measures towards managing health and safety in compliance with the law are summarised in the following pages.


Health and Safety Risk Assessments


As part of managing health and safety, the law requires that the risks in the workplace are controlled. To satisfy this requirement, a process of risk assessment for all aspects of business operations must be carried out, the key measures for which should include:

  • Appointment of a competent person to undertake risk assessments.

  • Accurate identification of potential hazards in the workplace.

  • Identification of those who might be harmed (as well as employees, this should include other persons such as contractors or visitors).

  • Evaluating the risks and determine the controls required.

  • Recording significant findings – the hazards, how people might be harmed and the risk controls in place (where there are less than five employees, there is no legal requirement to write anything down although in these circumstances creating a formal record is recommended practice).

  • Reviewing risk assessments on an ongoing basis with particular regard to when workplace or operational changes have taken place, or where an incident has occurred.

There are also specific risk assessments that are required by law, including:

  • Fire (reference should be made to the RiskSTOP Fire Risk Assessment guide)

  • Manual handling

  • Display screen equipment (DSE)

  • Control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH)

  • Noise

  • Confined spaces

  • Dangerous substances and explosive atmospheres (DSEAR)

  • Pressure systems (PSSR)

  • Lifting operations and lifting equipment (LOLER)

  • Provision and use of work equipment (PUWER)

Guidance on risk assessment can be found in HSE publication INDG163, available at

In the event that it is decided to commission the services of a health and safety consultant to assist with risk assessment (or, for that matter, any other occupational safety and health advice), it is recommended that an appointment is made from the Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register (OSHCR), details of which can be found at

Health and Safety Policy

Fundamental to the effective management of health and safety, and to comply with statutory obligations, a written health and safety policy statement as required by the Health and Safety at Work Act must be prepared to reflect the commitment to health and safety, and to define the organisational structure and working arrangements currently in place.

Where there are five or more employees, the policy must be written down. Where there are less than five employees, there is no legal requirement for the policy to be written, but it is helpful to do so.

In accordance with HSE guidance, the health and safety policy should consist of the following:

Part 1: Statement of intent

A statement of the company’s general policy on health and safety at work, including its commitment to managing health and safety, together with its aims and objectives. This should be signed by the employer, or most senior person in the company, and should be regularly reviewed.

Part 2: Responsibilities for health and safety

The names, positions and roles of the people in the business who have specific responsibility for health and safety need to be listed.

Part 3: Arrangements for health and safety

Details of the practical arrangements in place, outlining how the health and safety policy aims and objectives are to be implemented. This could include, for example, conducting a risk assessment, training employees and using safety signs or equipment.

The health and safety policy should be communicated to all employees and should be reviewed at regular intervals to reflect changes in the organisation, working environment and hazards.

Further information concerning the preparation of a health and safety policy, including a sample policy template is available from the HSE at

Health and Safety Training

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 requires an employer to provide whatever information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of all employees.  This is expanded by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 which identifies situations where health and safety training is particularly important, e.g. when people start work, exposure to new or increased risks, and where existing skills may have become rusty or need updating.

In order to identify and implement appropriate training programmes, the HSE recommends adopting the following five-step approach:

  • Step 1 Decide what training is required

  • Step 2 Decide on the training priorities

  • Step 3 Select the appropriate training methods and resources

  • Step 4 Deliver the training

  • Step 5 Check that the training has worked

When planning and reviewing health and safety training, it is important to ensure that:

  • All employees have sufficient health and safety training which is repeated periodically or when changes in working practices are made.

  • An assessment is made of the training needs of all members of staff.

  • The stringent legal requirements for training are undertaken and recorded (for example, first-aid, fork-lift truck operations).

  • Special training needs are identified such as young persons, new recruits, trainees, existing workers, those moving jobs and part-time workers.

  • In-house training, as well as that provided by external sources, is fully documented, including supervised or ‘on the job’ training.

  • Refresher training is identified and implemented.

Guidance on health and safety training can be found in HSE publication INDG345, available at

Slips, Trips and Falls

Slips and trips are the most common cause of injury at work. According to the HSE, on average they are the cause of around 30% of all reported major injuries and can also lead to other types of serious accidents, for example, falls from height. Slips and trips are also the most reported injury to members of the public.

Key risk control measures include, but are not limited to:

  • Ensuring that walkways are clearly marked and together with work areas are kept clear of obstructions and debris.

  • Avoiding trailing cables and wires. Where there is an unavoidable temporary feature, provide suitable cable covers and, where necessary, restrict access to prevent people having to cross them.

  • Depositing waste and discarded materials into suitable bins placed in convenient locations.

  • Maintaining floor, car park and other surfaces in sound condition.

  • Ensuring that the risk of leaks and spillages is reduced by adopting correct maintenance and handling procedures, as most slips happen on wet or dirty floors. Where spillages occur, they should be cleaned up immediately and the floor left dry. Wet floors arising from cleaning operations should be protected by barriers as signs and cones only warn of a hazard and if the spill is not visible these are usually ignored.

  • Keeping paths and parking areas free of snow and ice.

  • Ensuring that adequate lighting is provided both internally and externally.

  • Ensuring that stairways are kept clean, adequately lit and equipped with handrails and non-slip treads.

  • Providing suitable access for work at height.

  • Inspecting ladders, steps and platforms and record the findings. Faulty access equipment must be taken out of service until repaired.

  • Never using ladders that are unsecured or on unstable ground.

  • Never allowing people to climb racking to retrieve goods.

  • Ensuring that edge protection is provided to mezzanine floors.


Detailed guidance on how to manage the risk of slip and trips in the workplace is available at the HSE website -

Accident Reporting and First-aid

An accident book (reference BI 510, available from the HSE) must be held in which all accidents at work are recorded. Accidents resulting in major injuries, or involving dangerous occurrences, must be additionally reported in accordance with the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR). Guidance on RIDDOR can be found in HSE publication INDG453: A Brief Guide to the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) available at

Adverse events (incidents leading to injury or other loss such as property damage) can happen at any time and can result in accidents or near misses. Accident investigation procedures need to be established to identify root or underlying causes of such events as an aid to accident prevention and the overall ongoing management of risk.

In addition to having an accident book, first-aid arrangements must be provided. The nature and extent of which will depend on the particular circumstances of the workplace and the outcome of a specific assessment.  As a minimum, there must be in place:

  • A suitably locked first-aid box;

  • An appointed person to take control of first-aid arrangements;

  • Information for all employees giving details of first-aid arrangements.

The outcome of the assessment may determine that a fully trained first-aider is required.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Wherever there are risks to health and safety that cannot be adequately controlled by other methods, it is a requirement of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (as amended) that PPE is provided. This can include items such as gloves, safety helmets and hard hats, safety footwear, eye protection, high-visibility clothing and safety harnesses.


Hearing protection and respiratory protective equipment provided for most work situations are not covered by these Regulations owing to the fact that there are other more specific regulations that apply to them. However, these items need to be compatible with any other PPE provided.


In addition, it is a requirement of the Regulations that PPE is:

  • Properly assessed before use to make sure it is fit for purpose;

  • Maintained and stored properly;

  • Provided with instructions on how to use it safely;

  • Used correctly by employees.


Careful attention should be given to ensuring that the correct type of PPE is selected for the tasks undertaken, for which advice sought from the PPE supplier, from specialists or from the PPE manufacturer should be sought.  Choose good quality products which are ‘CE’ marked in accordance with the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002, on which suppliers will be able to advise.


The PPE at Work Regulations do not apply where the following five sets of regulations require the provision and use of PPE against these hazards. For example, gloves used to prevent dangerous chemicals penetrating the skin would be covered by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (as amended). The Regulations are:


  • The Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002

  • The Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017

  • The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012

  • The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (as amended)

  • The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005


Full guidance on the subject of PPE can be found in HSE publication L25: Personal Protective Equipment at Work, available at

Machinery, Plant and Equipment Safety

The Provision and Use at Work Regulations 1998 (PUWER) place duties on people and companies who own, operate, or have control over work equipment. PUWER also places responsibilities on businesses and organisations whose employees use work equipment, whether owned by them or not.

Under PUWER, equipment provided for use at work must be:


  • Suitable for the intended use;

  • Safe for use, maintained in a safe condition and inspected to ensure it is correctly installed and does not subsequently deteriorate;

  • Used only by people who have received adequate information, instruction and training;

  • Accompanied by suitable health and safety measures, such as protective devices and controls. These will normally include machinery guarding, emergency stop devices, adequate means of isolation from sources of energy, clearly visible markings and warning devices;

  • Used in accordance with specific requirements for mobile work equipment and power presses.


Work equipment under the scope of PUWER is extremely wide and relates to any machinery, appliance, apparatus, tool or installation for use at work (whether exclusively or not) and extends to equipment which employees provide for their own use in the workplace. The use of work equipment is also very widely interpreted and '...means any activity involving work equipment and includes starting, stopping, programming, setting, transporting, repairing, modifying, maintaining, servicing and cleaning'.

Some work equipment is subject to other health and safety legislation in addition to PUWER. For example, lifting equipment must also meet the requirements of LOLER, pressure equipment must meet the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations and personal protective equipment must meet the PPE Regulations.


Ensuring that plant and equipment is correctly maintained is a vital discipline. Establishing a planned maintenance programme is an important step towards reducing risk, together with implementing reporting procedures for employees who may notice problems while operating machinery.  Some items of plant and equipment may have safety-critical features for which routine inspection will be required. 


It is important to recognise that serious accidents can occur whilst maintenance is undertaken. Key safety measures include, but are not limited to, ensuring that:


  • Employees have the necessary competence to carry out the work. If not, specialist contractors should be appointed;

  • Work is correctly planned before commencement, referring to the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions and a safe system of work is produced;

  • Maintenance staff are provided with the appropriate clothing and equipment;

  • Where possible, maintenance work is carried out during downtime;

  • Safe areas in and around maintenance activities are established;

  • Plant and equipment is made safe before maintenance starts, such as ensuring electrical isolation, machine lock off, isolation of plant and pipelines containing pressurised fluid, gas, steam or hazardous material, stored energy released etc.

Detailed information relating to PUWER is contained in HSE publication L22: Safe use of work equipment - Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. Approved Code of Practice and guidance, available at

Safety Signs and Signals

Under the Health and Safety (Signs and Signals) Regulations, employers are required to ensure that safety signs are provided (or are in place) and maintained in circumstances where there is a significant risk to health and safety that has not been controlled by other methods.

The deployment of safety signs should be determined by the results of the risk assessment where, despite control measures having been introduced, a significant residual risk remains.

The Regulations make it clear that safety signs must not be used as a substitute for other risk control means, but rather that they are to warn of any remaining significant risk or to instruct employees of the measures that should be taken in relation to these risks.   

It should be noted that in addition to the provisions of the Health and Safety (Signs and Signals) Regulations, certain fire safety signs may have to be displayed under separate legal provisions.   

For detailed information regarding these regulations, reference should be made to HSE guidance publication L64: Safety Signs and Signals - The Health and Safety (Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996, available at


With Britain having left the EU, the HSE has set-up a website for the publication of an index of changes which are taking place concerning health and safety matters -

Lone Working

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, employers must manage the risk to lone workers; this applies to any person contracted to work for the business, including the self-employed.

Lone workers comprise of those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision, for example:

  • Delivery drivers, health workers or engineers

  • Security staff or cleaners

  • Lone workers in warehouses or petrol stations

  • Persons working at home

Persons working alone will always be at greater risk, many of whom will also be exposed to work-related road risks. Managing the risks to employees who drive at work, whether this is in a company or hired vehicle or the employee’s own vehicle, is more than just compliance with road traffic legislation, but extends to taking all reasonable steps to manage these risks and to do everything that is reasonably practicable to protect people from harm in the same manner as they would in the workplace.

Full information concerning the health and safety of lone workers is published by the HSE and is available at

Managing Asbestos in Buildings

The duty to manage asbestos is contained in regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. It requires the person who has the duty (i.e. the ‘dutyholder’) to:


  • Take reasonable steps to find out if there are materials containing asbestos in non-domestic premises and if so, it’s amount, where it is and what condition it is in.

  • Presume materials contain asbestos unless there is strong evidence that they do not.

  • Make, and keep up to date, a record of the location and condition of the asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) or materials which are presumed to contain asbestos.

  • Assess the risk of anyone being exposed to fibres from the materials identified.

  • Prepare a plan that sets out in detail how the risks from these materials will be managed.

  • Take the necessary steps to put the plan into action.

  • Periodically review and monitor the plan and the arrangements to act on it so that the plan remains relevant and up to date.

  • Provide information on the location and condition of the materials to anyone who is liable to work on or disturb them.

There is also a requirement on others to co-operate as far as is necessary to allow the dutyholder to comply with the above requirements.

The dutyholder is the owner of the non-domestic premises or the person or organisation that has clear responsibility for the maintenance or repair of non-domestic premises, for example through an explicit agreement such as a tenancy agreement or contract. The Regulations also apply to the common areas of domestic buildings such as entrance halls, stairwells, lift shafts and roof spaces.

ACMs can be found in any industrial or residential building built or refurbished before the year 2000. According to the HSE, past exposure to asbestos causes around 4500 deaths a year in the UK. ACMs include, but are not limited to:

  • Asbestos cement roof and wall claddings;

  • Lagging;

  • Sprayed coatings on ceilings, walls and structural frame members;

  • Asbestos insulation board;

  • Roofing felt;

  • Loose asbestos in ceiling or floor voids;

  • Textured coatings;

  • Floor tiles, textiles and composites;

  • Rope seals and gaskets;

  • Naturally occurring asbestos in some types of marble and other stone.

All types of ACMs can be dangerous if disturbed owing to the release of fibres that can cause mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis if they are inhaled. The more asbestos fibres breathed in, the greater the risk to health. As a result, workers who may be exposed to asbestos when conducting repair or maintenance activity are particularly at risk.

Where in any doubt as to the presence or extent of asbestos-containing materials, it is recommended that an asbestos survey of the premises is undertaken by a specialist contractor. Organisations that sample and analyse asbestos need to be accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS). UKAS also run an accreditation scheme for organisations that do asbestos surveys. An accredited company is likely to employ suitably trained people for these types of work, but a check should be made on what the firm is accredited for as some will only be qualified to do surveys and take samples and others only to analyse samples (the UKAS website address is:

It must be remembered that most work on asbestos insulation, asbestos insulation board and lagging, including sealing and removal, should normally only be carried out by a contractor licensed by the HSE, details of which can be found at Asbestos Licensing (

Extensive information and guidance on managing asbestos in buildings is published by the HSE, available at This includes a web-based tool which takes the participant through the whole process of managing the risk from asbestos for which the link is

The Asbestos Removal Contractors Association ( is a further source of reference.

TR 05b General Fire Safety

Flammable Liquids (The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations)

The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR) require employers to assess the risk of fires and explosions arising from work activities involving dangerous substances, and to eliminate or reduce these risks. Flammable liquids, which are commonplace in many premises (often with disregard to fire safety), are a key consideration.

Liquids (such as petrol and other fuels) and solvents in industrial products (such as paint, ink, adhesives and cleaning fluids) give off flammable vapour which, when mixed with air, can ignite or explode. The ease by which liquids give off flammable vapours is linked to a simple physical test called Flashpoint (i.e. the minimum temperature at which a liquid, under specific test conditions, gives off sufficient flammable vapour to ignite momentarily on the application of an ignition source) which allows them to be classed according to the fire hazard they present in normal use.

Flammable liquids are classed as:

  • Extremely flammable - Liquids which have a flashpoint lower than 0°C and a boiling point (or, in the case of a boiling range, the initial boiling point) lower than or equal to 35°C.

  • Highly flammable - Liquids which have a flashpoint below 21°C but which are not extremely flammable.

  • Flammable - Liquids which have a flashpoint equal to or greater than 21°C and less than or equal to 55°C and which support combustion when tested in the prescribed manner at 55°C.

In addition to the requirements under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (the Management Regulations), where flammable liquids are intentionally present at the workplace, there is a specific requirement under DSEAR for businesses to identify the potential risks such activity may pose to employees and others whose health and safety may be affected, and to determine the measures to be taken to eliminate or reduce these risks so far as reasonably practicable.

Concerning the storage, use and handling of small volumes of flammable liquids in the workplace, risk control considerations include, but are not limited to:

  • Investigating the possibility of eliminating the risk, by substitution with a non-flammable or less hazardous material.

  • Ensuring that staff are correctly trained in the hazards presented by flammable liquids and the fire safety measures required.

  • Providing sufficient ventilation to maintain the concentration of the liquid’s vapour below the lower explosive limit.

  • Eliminating all possible ignition sources.

  • Ensuring that flammable liquids are stored and transported in suitable containers clearly marked, including the use of proprietary ‘safety vessels’ for dispensing.

  • Containment of unavoidable spillages in bunds or catchment trays.

  • Quantities of flammable liquids stored in working areas should be kept to a minimum and subject to a process risk assessment. In all cases the volumes should not exceed the requirements for the day or shift being worked, contained in a metal flammables cabinet, with bulk storage, where appropriate, confined to a detached flammable liquids store.

The risk assessment required under DSEAR may be carried out as part of the risk assessment requirements of the Management Regulations and general fire safety legislation, which follows the same approach as that used in health and safety legislation. In particular, given the need to take account of the presence of flammable liquids in the general fire safety risk assessment, businesses may find it of benefit to carry out the required risk assessments as a consolidated exercise.

A risk assessment should be carried out regardless of the quantity of flammable liquid present at the workplace as it will enable businesses to decide whether existing measures are sufficient or whether any additional controls or precautions are necessary. As well as assessing the normal activities within the workplace, consideration should also be given to non-routine activities, such as maintenance work where there is often a higher potential for fire and explosion incidents to occur. If there is no risk to safety from fires and explosions, or the risk is trivial, no further action is needed. If there are risks, control measures must be implemented to comply fully with the requirements of DSEAR

Detailed guidance concerning dangerous substances (including flammable liquids) and the DSEAR Regulations are available from the HSE at 

In addition to the hazards of fire and explosion, flammable liquids also require consideration under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations for which reference must be made to product Safety Data Sheets. 

Common Industrial Gases in Cylinders

Cylinders of compressed gas are commonly encountered in a wide range of industrial and commercial premises and will also be found for example in schools and laboratories. These include both flammable and non-flammable substances, all of which can introduce serious fire and explosion hazards into the workplace. In addition, inappropriate use and handling of compressed gas cylinders can cause serious injury.

Detailed guidance on gas cylinder fire safety is contained in RISCAuthority publication RC8: Recommendations for the storage, use and handling of common industrial gases in cylinders, available at

Key risk control measures include ensuring that:

  • The hazards presented by gas cylinders are fully considered when conducting assessments for Fire and the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR). 

  • The numbers of gas cylinders kept on site are carefully managed to minimum operational needs with nominally empty cylinders returned to the supplier at the earliest opportunity.

  • All available safety data and equipment operating and maintenance instructions are obtained from the suppliers and fully observed and all users correctly trained in the safe use of gas cylinders and equipment including emergency procedures. 

  • Cylinders are treated with care and are prevented from falling during use, in storage and when being transported, by chaining them in place in their designated storage area and place of use or by the provision of purpose made trolleys.

  • Cylinders are stored externally in a securely fenced compound with protection from the weather and direct sunlight. Full cylinders should be stored separately from nominally empty cylinders and cylinders of different gases should be separated from each other. (In the event that cylinders are unavoidably stored internally, special precautions are required to be taken of which full details are contained in RC8).

  • The external cylinder compound is located at least 4m from boundary fences, buildings and other structures.

  • The compound and adjacent areas are to be kept clear of combustible materials such as idle pallets and vegetation.

  • For welding and similar operations, flashback arresters are fitted downstream of pressure regulators on all fuel gas and oxygen supply hoses/lines. In addition, the condition of hoses and connections are checked before each use and that hoses are secured with clips approved by the equipment manufacturer (worm-drive clips are not suitable for this purpose). 

  • All cylinders and equipment is maintained in a clean condition. Equipment for use with cylinders is returned to the supplier for routine examination and/or servicing at intervals recommended by the supplier.

  • No attempt is made to extinguish an outbreak of fire involving burning fuel gas until the gas supply has been shut off. Untrained personnel should not attempt to tackle a fire involving fuel gases; the area should be evacuated and the fire brigade called immediately.

Acetylene is a particularly hazardous gas for which specific fire safety measures as set out in RISCAuthority publication RC49: Recommendations for the storage, handling and use of acetylene cylinders should be observed. This can be obtained at

Further sources of reference concerning gas cylinder safety include the HSE and BOC online.

Housekeeping and Waste Control

Implementing and maintaining correct standards of housekeeping and waste control are fundamental in the management of the risk of fire and in accomplishing workplace safety, some of the key measures, where applicable, are summarised as follows:

  • The premises should be kept in a clean and orderly condition at all times. Goods and waste should not be stored in aisles and other designated clear areas and unobstructed access to all fire escape routes should be maintained.

  • All plant rooms should be kept clear of all storage and locked securely. Similar considerations may also apply to roof spaces and other voids.

  • Combustible materials and other storage should be kept clear of heating appliances, electrical switchgear and other plant items, which should be guarded as required. Light fittings will also require clearance from combustibles.

  • The internal storage of idle pallets should be kept to a minimum unless external storage is impracticable, or there is a significant risk of external items being the target of an arson attack.

  • Hazardous materials such as flammable liquids, gas cylinders, oxidising agents, etc. should be used and stored in a safe manner as determined by the DSEAR risk assessment.

  • Outside storage of idle pallets, plastic crates and other combustibles should be strictly controlled. Individual stacks should, where possible, be limited to a maximum height of 6m and storage kept at least 10m (or 1.5 x the stack height where greater) from buildings and a minimum of 2m from the site boundary.

  • Avoid storing combustible materials on loading docks and under external canopies outside of working hours.

  • Waste materials should be removed at the end of the working day and transferred to external metal bins or skips, securely sited at least 10m from the buildings and at least 2m from the site boundary. Where this is unachievable owing to spatial restrictions, waste should be kept in lockable metal containers located as far away from buildings as possible.

  • Plastic wheelie bins should be secured in position as far away as possible from doors, windows, overhanging roofs and canopies and from external combustible storage. Whilst contravening established practice, it may be necessary for the bins to be retained within the building outside of working hours where open space is limited and there is a perceived heightened risk of arson.

  • Special attention should be given to the handling of oil contaminated waste and other waste material which can be liable to spontaneous combustion. All such materials should be held in specific metal bins with close fitting metal lids and should be removed from the workplace at the end of the day or working shift.

  • The burning of rubbish in the open should not be undertaken.

  • Vegetation surrounding the premises should be periodically cut back and removed as necessary.

  • Management procedures should be introduced whereby the above measures are audited at periodic intervals and deficiencies corrected.

Hot Work/Control of Contractors

Hot work such as the use of gas/electric welding and cutting equipment, blowlamps, hot air guns, angle grinders and bitumen boilers is a common cause of major fires and requires suitable controls in the form of a Hot Work Permit system for use by in-house maintenance staff and contractors. In particular, hot work should not be permitted, or at least closely supervised in the vicinity of any combustible construction materials or combustible storage.


  • The permit system should be regularly audited.

  • Every effort should be taken to ensure that hot work operatives are suitably trained and authority to issue Hot Work Permits is restricted to named personnel who have completed training in hot work control procedures.

  • Detailed information on hot work precautions is contained in the freely available RISCAuthority publication RC7: Recommendations for hot work in which can be found a sample hot work permit form and an appending checklist, available at

In addition to the specific hazards associated with hot work, contractors’ operations in general can introduce significant fire and safety hazards to the workplace over which the need for close control cannot be overemphasised.

All external contractors working on the premises must provide risk assessments and method statements for their work as well as proof of adequate public liability insurance.  Adequate supervision of the contractors must be made ensuring that they work according to their method statements and the working site is safe at all times, whether attended or not. Written records of risk assessments, method statements, insurance and supervision should be retained on file. Also, it is important that all contractors are informed of the premise’s health and safety arrangements in force. This will normally involve the provision of written safety rules for contractors which should be issued and signed at the start of the contract, confirming receipt and understanding.

Guidance on the control of contractors is contained in HSE documents INDG368 and HSG159, which are freely available from the HSE website - and

Smoking Controls

It is important to ensure that smoking is prohibited throughout the workplace and all public areas in accordance with the Smoke-free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulations. Suitable no-smoking signs are to be provided in compliance with the Smoke-free (Signs) Regulations.

Where required, a designated safe area in the open in which smoking is allowed should be provided, well away from the building and areas of fire hazard such as refuse areas, flammable liquids storage and gas cylinder compounds.

In the event that a smoking shelter is deemed necessary, this should comply with the specific design criteria as prescribed in the stated Regulations. In addition, any partial smoking enclosure should be of non-combustible construction, no materials of a combustible or flammable nature are to be located within 10m of the smoking area, suitable metal receptacles for discarded smoking materials provided and the area around the shelter kept clear of vegetation and windblown debris.

For further information, reference should be made to RC51: Recommendations regarding smoking at work, published by the RISCAuthority, available at

Space Heating


The methods of heating employed in industrial and commercial premises varies considerably, both in respect of the type of the appliance and the fuel used. In addition to the hazards presented by a specific form of heating, the occupancy of the premises and the nature of the operations conducted will also have a bearing on the risk profile.

By way of general guidance, the following risk control measures should be considered:

  • The hazards associated with the space heating employed should form part of the fire risk assessment.

  • Any method of heating for use in potentially flammable and/or explosive atmospheres will require special consideration in accordance with the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR).     

  • Heating equipment should be installed, operated, maintained and serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions by persons with the required degree of competency. Special fire safety considerations apply to purpose designed heaters burning waste fuel for which detailed guidance is given in RISCAuthority publication RC4: Fixed heating equipment burning waste fuel, available at

  • Combustible materials and other storage should not be located adjacent or in close proximity to heating equipment which should be guarded where appropriate.

  • Flue pipes from boilers and heating appliances should be installed clear of combustible material. Where passing through combustible elements such as timber flooring, roof decking, combustible linings, etc., such material should be cut back by a distance as specified by the equipment manufacturer/installer and the space filled with non-combustible insulation.

  • Heater flues positioned in the proximity of composite panels are to be located no closer to the panel than three times the diameter of the flue or duct and should not pass through such panelling. If panel penetration is unavoidable, hot flues or ducts are to be enclosed within either a non-combustible insulating sleeve at least 40mm thick or a proprietary sleeve system achieving 60 minutes fire resistance in terms of integrity and insulation. Any gap between the sleeve and panel is to be filled with mineral fibre or other suitable non-combustible material.

Methods of fixed heating is normally the preferred option for industrial and commercial premises. In circumstances where the use of portable heaters is unavoidable, reference should be made to the guidance found in RISCAuthority publication RC15: Recommendations for the use of portable heaters in the workplace, available at

Note: RISCAuthority is an annually funded research scheme, supported by a significant group of UK insurers, that conducts research in support of the development and dissemination of best practice on the protection of property and business. Acting as a portal for communication between its membership and other stakeholders, RISCAuthority is well placed to offer advice and receive notification on all relevant subject matter. Underpinned by extensive research, RISCAuthority publishes through the Fire Protection Association (FPA), extensive guides and recommendations for risk mitigation in the areas of Fire and Security, most of which are available via a free document library -

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH)

The COSHH Regulations impose duties on employers to safeguard the health and safety of employees and others (such as contractors and visitors) that may be affected by hazardous substances within the workplace through a combination of risk assessment, exposure control, monitoring, health surveillance and incident planning.

The Regulations apply to a wide range of substances and preparations (mixtures of two or more substances) which have the potential to cause harm to health if they are ingested, inhaled, absorbed by, or come into contact with, the skin, or other body membranes. The term “substances” may relate to products that are bought in or used as part of a process, in addition to any substances generated during a process (by-products) that may be hazardous to health. Hazardous substances can take many forms including:

  • chemicals

  • products containing chemicals

  • fumes

  • dusts

  • vapours

  • mists

  • nanotechnology

  • gases and asphyxiating gases and

  • biological agents 

  • germs that cause diseases such as leptospirosis or legionnaires disease and germs used in laboratories.

COSHH Regulations do not apply to asbestos, lead or radioactive substances which have their own specific regulations.

In general terms, the legal obligations imposed by COSHH can be broken down into the following six essential elements:


  1. Assessment. An assessment must be carried out in order to identify and assess the potential health risks on the premises.

  2. Prevention. The exposure must be prevented or substituted by a less hazardous substance or process.

  3. Control. When prevention or substitution is not reasonably practicable, the exposure must be controlled.

  4. Maintenance. Control measures must be routinely inspected and maintained to ensure continued effectiveness.

  5. Instruction. Information, instruction and training must be made available to all employees.

  6. Surveillance. Where appropriate, health surveillance should be carried out where exposure may result in an identifiable disease or adverse health effect.


Most businesses use substances, or products that are mixtures of substances, whilst others conduct processes which create substances, many of which have the potential to cause harm to employees, contractors and others. As such, it is important that management pay close attention to the COSHH Regulations in accordance with the information and guidance published by the HSE, available at

Portable Heaters in the Workplace

Portable heaters will often be used in commercial and industrial premises as a means of supplementing central heating systems, or as the sole method of heating in working environments where the provision of effective fixed heating may be particularly challenging.

By their very nature, portable heaters are more hazardous than fixed heating systems, owing to the risk of them being placed too close to combustible materials. In addition, supply cables to electrical heaters pose a serious tripping hazard. As a result, the continued use of most portable heaters should be discouraged and, in some cases, may need to be agreed with the insurance provider.

In circumstances where the use of portable heaters is unavoidable, attention should be given to the following key risk control measures:

  • Care should be exercised to ensure that the type of portable heater selected is suitable for the environment in which it is to be employed.  In particular, portable heaters should not be used in areas where flammable gases, vapour or combustible dusts are present, unless specifically designed for that purpose. 

  • Portable heaters should be sited and used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. It is particularly important that they are positioned on a level, dry, non-combustible surface where the risk of them being damaged or overturned is minimised.  

  • Portable heaters should be positioned clear of combustible materials and, where appropriate, adequately guarded.

  • Unattended operation of portable heaters should be avoided at all times. In circumstances where this may not always be possible, a specific risk assessment should be carried out and appropriate control measures implemented.

  • Portable heaters should be isolated from the electrical supply at the end of the working day.

  • All portable heaters should be maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and should undergo periodic portable appliance testing where appropriate.

For further fire safety information on portable heaters, reference should be made to RISCAuthority publication RC15: Recommendations for the use of portable heaters in the workplace, available at

Oil and Solvent-Soaked Rags

Oil and solvent-soaked rags are highly combustible and present a serious fire risk when improperly discarded.

Oil-soaked rags are liable to spontaneous combustion; as the oil oxides, heat is released, which if not dissipated can build up to a point when the rags will ignite. This is particularly prevalent with vegetable oils. Whilst solvent-soaked rags are not normally a spontaneous combustion hazard, they nevertheless can be highly combustible and are easily ignited by a lit cigarette, welding spark or other source of ignition.

All oil-soaked rags should be deposited in special oily-waste cans. These metal containers have a specially designed lid which opens to a maximum of 60° degrees and remains closed when not in use, isolating the contents from ignition sources and limiting oxygen to the point where spontaneous combustion is virtually eliminated. Round construction and an elevated bottom encourage air circulation around the can to disperse heat and reduce moisture build-up and rusting. Waste cans should be emptied at the end of each day or shift, and rags stored in metal bins with tight-fitting metal lids located in a safe area outside the building while awaiting disposal.

Solvent-soaked rags should be placed in closed metal containers to reduce evaporation and minimise the chance of ignition.  These containers should be emptied daily and rags held in metal bins located in a safe area external to the building, and the solvent allowed to evaporate.

Rags should not be used for absorbing oil leaks or spillages, such as around or under machines, but proprietary, oil absorbent granules or other branded inert products employed for this purpose.

Many businesses nowadays employ the services of companies which provide an industrial wiper rental service in which clean rags are supplied and soiled rags taken away for laundering. In these circumstances, collector bins for the storage of soiled rags are normally supplied. Such services often extend to absorption mats and other related products. 

It should be remembered that it is not just oil-soaked rags that are liable to spontaneous combustion, but that this also applies to oil-soaked clothing, overalls and gloves, all of which should be handled with similar caution.

Fire Safety Self-Inspections

Self-inspections form an integral component of an effective fire safety management programme, the main objective of which is to ensure that housekeeping and fire safety disciplines are maintained and that fire protection measures and procedures are fully functional. This process plays a valuable role in complementing the legal process of risk assessment under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order and the parallel legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and will help to demonstrate to insurance providers and enforcing authorities a proactive approach to fire safety responsibilities as well contributing to the management of property and business interruption risks.

General Considerations

  • The self-inspection process should be designed and managed to ensure that adverse fire safety conditions are identified and corrective action taken.

  • Inspections should be tailored to the specific needs of the premises and the processes and other activities conducted, as regards both the depth and frequency. All areas of the premises should be embraced, including storage yards. A frequency of weekly is a commonly adopted baseline.

  • Inspections should be undertaken during normal working hours when the premises are fully operational. Areas of the premises which become silent will require special consideration.

  • Inspections should be carried out by responsible, suitably trained and informed persons, with the full support of management.

  • Inspections together with the corrective actions should be fully documented and remedial measures taken without delay.

  • Inspection reports should be analysed for shortfalls in fire safety discipline.

Specific Aspects

Aspects for specific attention when formulating a fire safety, self-inspection programme include, but are not limited to:

  • Sprinklers and other fixed fire suppression systems

  • Fire alarms

  • Fire hydrants and brigade access

  • Fire extinguishers

  • Means of escape

  • Fire safety signage

  • Fire doors and shutters

  • Structural fire protection and compartmentation

  • Computer/telecoms rooms and other key facilities

  • Flammable liquids and gases

  • Smoking controls

  • General housekeeping

  • Maintenance of plant and services

  • Hot work

  • Space heating

  • Fork-lift trucks and other mobile plant

  • Building and overall site security

TR 03 Electrical Safety

Electricity can kill or severely injure people. It can also cause serious damage to property and major business interruption from the effects of fires and explosions. With the exception of malicious ignition, electrical failure or malfunction is by far the largest cause of fires in the UK.

Electrical Installation Inspection and Testing

Ensuring that the correct attention is given to the use and maintenance of the electrical installation is a key risk control consideration, reducing the fire risk as well as contributing to compliance with statutory obligations under the Electricity at Work Regulations, together with any specific premises licensing requirements which may apply.  Periodic inspection and testing of the fixed electrical installation in accordance with BS 7671: Requirements for Electrical Installations (Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Wiring Regulations 18th Edition) is paramount.

  • Periodic inspection and testing should be carried out by an approved contractor or a registered member appropriate for the type of installation, of a UKAS accredited electrical contractor certification or inspection body scheme, or by a company which is a UKAS accredited full member of the Safety Assessment Federation (SAFed). On completion, a recognised Electrical Installation Condition Report should be issued

All reported defects coded C1 (“Danger present”) are to be remedied immediately, or the offending component or circuit taken out of service until suitable repairs are carried out.


Items coded C2 (“Potentially dangerous”) are to be remedied as a matter of urgency.


Items coded C3 (“Improvement recommended”) should be given full consideration and any items coded FI (“Further investigation required”) investigated without delay and any subsequent remedial measures coded and implemented as appropriate.

Further periodic inspection and testing should be undertaken in accordance with the recommendations of the electrical installation condition report. This will normally be at intervals of between one and five years, depending on occupancy.

In addition to periodic inspection and testing, it is recommended that recorded routine checks of the electrical installation are carried out focusing on the following aspects:


  •  Confirmation that all previously reported defects have been rectified.

  •  Visual inspection for breakages, undue wear, signs of overheating, missing parts and loose fixings.

  •  Correct operation of switchgear and equipment including RCD’s.

 Ongoing clearance of combustible materials from switchgear, electric motors, light fittings and other equipment.

The frequency and type of these routine checks will depend entirely upon the nature of the premises and should be set by the electrical dutyholder. Guidance published by the IET recommends a maximum frequency of once every 12 months.

Routine checks need not be carried out by an electrically skilled person but can be accomplished by somebody who is able to safely use the installation and recognise defects.

Detailed information on electrical inspection and testing is contained in IET Guidance Note 3 which can be purchased at

The HSE webpage provides access to a wealth of information on the entire subject of electrical safety at work.

Thermographic Testing

Thermographic testing (also referred to as ‘thermographic inspection’ or ‘thermal imaging’) is widely used in a range of premises as part of predictive and preventative electrical maintenance activities, covering items such as motors, main switchgear panels, distribution boards, control equipment, busbar systems and cabling. With the thermal images obtained, it is possible to identify hot spots arising from faults such as loose connections, overloaded circuits, transformer cooling faults, overheated motor windings and other electrical defects and effect repairs at an early stage.

Despite its benefits, thermal imaging is not recognised in BS 7671 as a test instrument, as a result of which it should be considered as being in addition to, and not a replacement for, conventional electrical inspection and testing programmes. Whist an excellent tool, thermal imaging is unable to identify defects such as physical damage to equipment and wiring, over rated fusing and lack of earth continuity. Nevertheless, it is recognised as being an extremely effective component of a planned maintenance programme, particularly in sectors such as healthcare and financial services, where isolation of the electrical supply to facilitate conventional inspection and testing can become increasingly difficult.

There are no hard and fast rules as to the frequency of thermographic testing and much will depend on a risk assessment and the ongoing test results obtained. Initial testing frequencies will vary depending on circumstances, although commonly would be set at intervals of 12 months. As well as being carried out by specialist contractors, thermographic testing can also be conducted by in-house electrical engineers using purchased equipment and with the correct training in the use of such equipment and the analysis of the test results.

Portable Appliance Testing

As an important step towards compliance with the Electricity at Work Regulations, a system of periodic visual inspection and appropriate testing of portable electrical appliances should be introduced in line with guidance provided by the HSE, with particular reference to the following publications freely available on the HSE website:

The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020

These Regulations, which came into force on 1 June 2020, require landlords in the Private Rented Sector (PRS) to have the electrical installations in their properties inspected and tested by a person who is qualified and competent, at least every five years. They must also provide a copy of the Electrical Safety Condition Report (EICR) to tenants, and to the local authority if requested. Should the EICR require investigative or remedial works, landlords will have to carry this out.


Landlords of privately rented accommodation, including houses in multiple occupation, must:

  • Ensure national electrical safety standards set out in the IET “Wiring Regulations” (BS 7671) are met.

  • Ensure the electrical installations in their rented properties are inspected and tested by a qualified and competent person at least every 5 years.

  • Obtain a report from the person conducting the inspection and test which gives the results and sets a date for the next inspection and test.

  • Supply a copy of this report to the existing tenant within 28 days of the inspection and test.

  • Supply a copy of this report to a new tenant before they occupy the premises.

  • Supply a copy of this report to any prospective tenant within 28 days of receiving a request for the report.

  • Supply the local authority with a copy of this report within 7 days of receiving a request for a copy.

  • Retain a copy of the report to give to the inspector and tester who will undertake the next inspection and test.

  • Where the report shows that remedial or further investigative work is necessary, complete this work within 28 days or any shorter period if specified as necessary in the report.

  • Supply written confirmation of the completion of the remedial works from the electrician to the tenant and the local authority within 28 days of completion of the works.

The Regulations apply to all new tenancies from 1 July 2020 and existing tenancies from 1 April 2021.

Exceptions are set out in Schedule 1 of the Regulations - and include social housing, lodgers, those on a long lease of 7 years or more, student halls of residence, hostels and refuges, care homes, hospitals and hospices and other accommodation relating to healthcare provisions.

For further information concerning the new Regulations, reference should be made to an article in “Wiring Matters” on the IET website -

Similar legal requirements came into effect in Scotland in 2015 under the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006, for which guidance for landlords is available at It is understood that similar regulations are being considered for the PRS in Wales and Northern Ireland.

TR 07 Fire Safety in Commercial Kitchens

Fires resulting from cooking facilities in commercial kitchens are a common occurrence, often involving deep fat frying, causing widespread damage and major business interruption. Guidance on effectively managing the risk of fires in kitchens includes the following measures:

  • A fire risk assessment should be carried out and periodically reviewed in compliance with statutory obligations (as part of the overall premises assessment of the risk of fire).

  • Care should be taken to ensure that all cooking equipment (including deep fat fryers) is installed, operated and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. In the case of gas equipment, installation and maintenance needs to be entrusted to a Gas Safe registered engineer.

  • Deep fat fryers should have a separate high temperature limit control of a non-self-resetting type, designed to shut off the heat source if the temperature of the fat exceeds 230°C. (Before retro-fitting thermostats and other temperature controls, the equipment manufacturer should be consulted).

  • With deep fat fryers, care should be taken to ensure cooking oil levels are maintained within the manufacturer’s recommended maximum and minimum levels.

  • Means should be provided for the remote emergency shutdown of power, fuel supply and the extraction system to all cooking equipment. Devices should be clearly labelled and located in safe positions, adjacent to the main escape route.​

  • Where ducting from the extract system passes through combustible material such as timber flooring, roof decking, combustible linings, etc., such material is cut back by a distance of at least 150mm and the space filled with non-combustible insulation. Ensure arrangements are in place for all extract canopies, filters and grease traps, ducts and fans to be inspected and cleaned as a matter of weekly routine, and that the services of a specialist contractor are employed for the inspection and deep cleaning of all extract ducts and fans annually, or more frequently where determined by a risk assessment. Guidance on this aspect is contained in RISCAuthority publication RC44: Recommendations for Fire Risk assessment of catering extract ventilation, available at 

  • It is recommended that deep cleaning is conducted by a company which is a member of the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), in accordance with the BESA Guide to Good Practice TR/19 - Internal Cleanliness of Ventilation Systems, culminating with the issue of a Post-Clean Verification of Cleanliness Report, or by an LPCB approved company, certificated to LPS 2084. In the event that a non BESA member, or non LPCB approved company is employed, the cleaning contractor should be required to provide a written report and photographs to evidence the condition of the ductwork before and after cleaning. The cleaning frequency is to be increased if the inspection report indicates an excessive build-up of grease deposits. Details of BESA member companies are to be found at and LPCB approved companies at

  • Appropriate fire extinguishers should be provided which should include at least one fire blanket and a Type F fire extinguisher. Extinguishers should be easily and safely accessible and maintained annually by a specialist firm.

  • Extract equipment should not be operated with the filters removed.

  • Deep fat fryers should not be left unattended when in use.

  • Ensure all employees are trained in fire emergency procedures.

  • Where arising from a risk assessment, a fixed fire suppression system approved to Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) Standard LPS 1223 or equivalent may require to be installed, protecting the cooking equipment, overhead canopy and ducting system and incorporate both manual and automatic operation. The system should be installed by a company which is approved by a suitable third-party certification scheme, of which the Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) LPS 1204 and the British Approvals for Fire Equipment (BAFE) SP 206 schemes are examples. A certificate of conformity is to be issued on completion. Details of LPCB approved installers can be found at and BAFE registered installers at


Daily checks are to be made to ensure that the nozzle caps on the spray heads of the fire suppression system are in place to prevent oil and fat from building up and compromising the effective action of the system. In addition, a visual inspection of the entire suppression system should be carried out by the owner at intervals of at least monthly in accordance with the manufacturer’s design, installation, and maintenance manual.

Note: RISCAuthority is an annually funded research scheme, supported by a significant group of UK insurers, that conducts research in support of the development and dissemination of best practice on the protection of property and business. Acting as a portal for communication between its membership and other stakeholders, RISCAuthority is well placed to offer advice and receive notification on all relevant subject matter. Underpinned by extensive research, RISCAuthority publishes through the Fire Protection Association (FPA), extensive guides and recommendations for risk mitigation in the areas of Fire and Security, most of which are available via a free document library -

TR 06b Fire Protection

Fire Detection and Alarm Systems

The majority of commercial and industrial premises will require the installation of a fire alarm ranging from a basic manually operated system of call points, through to an extensive fire detection and alarm system satisfying life safety and property protection objectives often incorporating remote signalling to an alarm receiving centre.

Irrespective of the type of system, the following general considerations should apply:

  • The fire detection and alarm system should be designed, installed, commissioned and maintained in accordance with BS 5839-1: Fire detection and fire alarm systems for buildings. Code of practice for design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of systems in non-domestic premises.

  • The system should be designed to the specified protection Category – Category M (Manual systems), Category L (Life Safety), Category P (Property Protection) and the appropriate sub-categories.

  • The system should be designed, installed, commissioned and maintained by a company which is approved by a suitable third-party certification scheme, of which the Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) LPS 1014 and the British Approvals for Fire Equipment (BAFE) SP 203-1 schemes are examples. Details of LPCB approved installers can be found at and BAFE registered installers at

  • Where required, the system should incorporate dual-path remote signalling by utilising a product, tested and certificated to Loss Prevention Council standard LPS1277 Issue 3 as conforming to ATS5, configured as such, and installed in accordance with Annex C of that standard, connected to a National Security Inspectorate (NSI) or Security Systems and Alarm Inspection Board (SSAIB) certificated alarm receiving centre.

  • The fire alarm system should be serviced periodically in accordance with the recommendations of BS: BS 5839-1: 2017 by a company which is approved by a suitable third-party certification scheme, of which the Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) LPS 1014 and the British Approvals for Fire Equipment (BAFE) SP 203-1 schemes are examples.

  • Where the installation of a fire detection and alarm system is a requirement of insurers, it is important that a pre-contract design specification is submitted to them for approval.

For detailed guidance concerning the sourcing of fire safety products and services, reference should be made to the RISCAuthority publication RC66: Recommendations for sourcing fire safety products and services, available at

Also, the excellent guidance on the management of fire detection and alarm systems in the workplace in the RISCAuthority publication RC47 is strongly recommended and available at

In considering the potential protection benefits which may be obtained from a remotely monitored fire detection and alarm system, it is important that the response policy of the local Fire and Rescue Service to automatic fire alarms (which can vary considerably) is firmly established.

Fire Safety Training

The actions of staff if a fire breaks out are likely to be crucial to their safety and that of other persons on the premises.

In accordance with legislation, all employees are required to be provided with adequate fire safety training as part of the normal training and induction process. Of particular importance is the need to ensure that all staff and contractors are informed of the emergency plan and are shown the escape routes.

The type of training should be based on the particular features of the premises and should:

  • Take account of the findings of the fire risk assessment;

  • Explain the emergency procedures;

  • Take account of the work activity and explain the duties and responsibilities of staff;

  • Be easily understandable by staff and other persons who may be present; and

  • Be tested by fire drills.


In simple premises this may be no more than showing new staff the fire exits and giving basic training on what to do if there is a fire. In complex premises with a high staff turnover and many shift patterns, the organisation of fire safety training will need to be planned.

Fire safety training should include the following measures:

  • Action on discovering a fire;

  • How to raise the alarm;

  • Action upon hearing the fire alarm;

  • The procedures for alerting contractors and visitors including, where appropriate, directing them to exits;

  • The arrangements for calling the fire and rescue service;

  • The evacuation procedures for everyone in the premises to reach an assembly point at a place of total safety;

  • The location and, when appropriate, the use of firefighting equipment;

  • The location of escape routes, especially those not in regular use;

  • How to open all emergency exit doors;

  • The importance of keeping fire doors closed to prevent the spread of fire, heat and smoke;

  • Where appropriate, how to stop machines and processes and isolate power supplies in the event of a fire;

  • The reason for not using lifts (except those specifically installed or nominated, following a suitable fire risk assessment, for the evacuation of disabled persons);

  • Arrangements for the safe use and storage of highly flammable and explosive substances; and

  • The importance of general fire safety, which includes good housekeeping.

All the staff identified in the emergency plan that have a supervisory role if there is a fire (e.g., heads of department, fire marshals or wardens and, in complex premises, fire parties or teams), should be given details of the fire risk assessment and receive additional training as required, with refresher training every 6 months.

Training should be formally recorded in writing and repeated as often as is necessary. It is important to recognise that alterations to the emergency plan, working practices or processes, or to preventative or protective measures are likely to influence training programmes. It is generally recognised that refresher fire safety training should be provided for all employees at least annually.

Fire Exits

Under UK fire safety legislation, the responsible person(s) in control of non-domestic premises have a duty of care to ensure that routes to emergency exits from premises and the exits themselves are kept clear at all times and that these emergency routes and exits must lead as directly as possible to a place of safety. The emergency routes and fire exits must be well lit and indicated by appropriate signage. In locations that require illumination, emergency lighting of adequate intensity must be provided and illuminated signs employed.

Of fundamental importance is the need to ensure that all fire exit doors and associated hardware are the subject of routine inspection and maintenance at appropriate intervals to guard against malfunction. This is in addition to ensuring that the exit itself is kept clear of any obstruction that would hinder the working of the exit hardware or the escape of people from the building. All such activity should be formally recorded as part of the fire safety management programme.

Where an emergency escape lighting system is installed, this should be tested at monthly and annual intervals as prescribed in BS EN 50172:2004/BS 5266-8:2004: Emergency escape lighting systems and all such tests recorded. In addition, it is recommended that the system be inspected and maintained annually by a competent engineer.

Fire Doors

Fire doors are to be found in almost every non-residential building constructed in the UK, (also in many residential buildings) installed in accordance with the relevant national fire safety regulations in connection with compartmentation, means of escape and, in some cases, providing the emergency services with a protected route to access the building. These regulations contain reference to the relevant British and European Standards which define the test requirements and performance for fire doors. Fire doors can also be installed as an outcome of a fire risk assessment to further protect life and property.

In addition to ensuring correct installation, it is vitally important that fire doors are inspected and maintained by competent persons for which reference to the Fire Door Inspection Scheme operated jointly between BWF-CERTIFIRE and the Guild of Architectural Ironmongers is strongly recommended -

Inspection of timber fire doors should be carried out at least once every six months as recommended in BS 8214, or more frequently, where determined by a risk assessment.  

Detailed information on all aspects of fire doors published by the BWF Fire Door Alliance is available at

Fire Stopping

As a key measure of achieving the designed fire resistance of compartment walls and floors in accordance with Building Regulations, all openings and penetrations for the passage of services such as electrical cable and trunking, water and gas services, process pipes, heating and air-conditioning services etc. should be fire protected. Also, gaps at the interface between compartment walls and floors and external cladding systems require to be sealed with cavity barriers. Cavity barriers and screens restricting the spread of fire will often be installed within floor, ceiling and roof voids.

All such measures fall within the commonly used term of ‘fire stopping’, an example is shown below:


As well as the measures illustrated, air-handling ducts at the point of piercing compartment walls and floors should be installed with automatic fire dampers, operated by independent fusible links, or by motorised valves linked to the fire detection and alarm system. In some cases, intumescent fire dampers are employed.

In addition to ensuring that fire stopping products are correctly specified and installed during building construction, it is vitally important that they are maintained in-situ during the life of the building as part of planned inspection and maintenance, where necessary employing specialist inspectors.

Fire compartmentation is often seriously compromised by contractors’ operations such as when installing new equipment and services, during which no regard has been taken of the need to ensure the integrity of the existing fire stopping measures, typically in floor and ceiling voids, electrical/mechanical service risers and other out of sight areas.  

Fire Extinguishing Appliances

A complement of fire extinguishers should be installed to the following requirements:


  • Fire extinguishing appliances should be installed throughout the premises in accordance with the requirements of BS 5306-8: 2012 – Fire extinguishing installations and equipment on premises – Code of practice for the selection and installation of portable fire extinguishers.

  • All extinguishers to be certified as BS EN 3-7 compliant such as those certified by the Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) or British Approvals for Fire Equipment (BAFE) and installed by a specialist contractor such as an LPCB approved contractor or BAFE registered company. Details of LPCB approved installers can be found at and BAFE registered installers at

  • All fire extinguishing appliances should be wall-mounted or positioned on stands by exits and fire alarm call points, or near to the specific hazard for which they are provided.

  • Fire extinguishing appliances should be maintained under an annual service contract by a specialist contractor such as a Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) BS5306-3 approved contractor or a British Approvals for Fire Equipment (BAFE) registered company.

  • In accordance with BS 5306-3: 2009 Fire extinguishing installations and equipment on premises - Commissioning and maintenance of portable fire extinguishers - Code of practice, the responsible person should carry out visual inspections of all extinguishers regularly. These visual inspections should be carried out at least monthly or more frequently when circumstances require. When carrying out these visual inspections, it should be ensured that:


  • Each extinguisher is correctly located in the designated place.

  • Each extinguisher is unobstructed and visible.

  • The operating instructions of each extinguisher are clean and legible and face outwards.

  • Each extinguisher has not been operated and is not obviously damaged or has any missing parts.

  • The reading of any pressure gauge or indicator fitted to an extinguisher is within operational and safety limits.

  • The seals and tamper indicators of each extinguisher are not broken or missing.

  • The responsible person should record the results of these visual inspections and arrange for corrective action, where necessary, by a competent person. In the event of doubt, the responsible person should arrange for a competent person to examine the extinguisher.


In addition to ensuring the provision and maintenance of extinguishers, employees should be instructed and trained in their use as appropriate.

Local Application Fire Suppression Systems

Local application, automatic fire suppression systems have a vital role to play in the protection of assets and business activity and should be installed as an outcome of a risk assessment.

A wide range of systems are available, most employing inert gas or synthetic/chemical extinguishing agents with automatic activation and discharge, commonly by linear heat and flame detection methods. Systems are typically low pressure in operation and will normally be employed for the protection of hazardous plant and machinery, and/or equipment that is highly business critical.

Common protection applications include:

  • Electrical control cabinets and server racks

  • CNC/EDM (computer numerically controlled and electrical discharge machines) automated machinery

  • Industrial ovens and dryers

  • Cooking ranges

  • Fume cabinets and laboratory equipment

  • Engine bays of fork-lift trucks

Where appropriate, systems should be designed, installed, commissioned and maintained in accordance with recognised UK or other international standards or codes, and should be installed and maintained by a company which has applicable third-party accreditation.

In addition to ensuring that the installation is inspected and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s design, installation and maintenance manual by the system installer or an approved contractor, end user checks should be carried out weekly by a trained member of staff, making sure that the system is undamaged and operational. Remote system monitoring may also be incorporated.

Fire Sprinkler Systems

Sprinklers are by far the most widely used and most reliable automatic means of fire protection and have been successfully deployed in the UK since the late 19th century for the protection of property and business operations. They also have a major bearing on life safety.

In basic terms, a sprinkler system consists of a pipework distribution system charged with water, with a network of sprinklers heads, supplied by mains water or a tank/reservoir. Each sprinkler head operates independently, typically at a temperature of 68°C. In the event of a fire, the rising hot gases cause the sprinkler head(s) in the immediate vicinity to open. As water flows from the head, it strikes a deflector plate creating a water spray on the fire below and the ceiling or roof above.

It is a common misunderstanding that in the event of a fire all sprinkler heads in the system operate simultaneously, resulting in widespread water damage. This is not the case owing to the fact that the water flowing from the operating head(s) has a desired cooling effect, preventing the remaining sprinkler heads in the system from reaching their operating temperature.  

According to the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (BAFSA), of all fires which occur in buildings protected by a correctly designed, installed and maintained sprinkler system, 99% are controlled or actually extinguished by sprinkler operation, with the majority involving fewer than 4 sprinkler heads.

Common types of sprinkler systems are:

  • Wet system: the most common system, in which the whole system is fully charged with water permanently to its design pressure, allowing water to be discharged immediately on activation of a sprinkler head.

  • Dry system: these systems are permanently charged with air under pressure, and the resulting pressure drop on activation of a sprinkler head activates a water control valve. This should generally only be used where a wet or alternate wet and dry system cannot be used.

  • Alternate wet and dry system: the system is full of water during warm months and drained and charged with air under pressure in winter months where there may be a risk of freezing. When the system is charged with air it operates as described for dry systems above.

  • Pre-action system: this system incorporates an electronic form of detection to pre-arm the system with water. The system is generally filled with air under pressure, and activation of a sensor or detector lets water into the system. Water is then released into the space on activation of the sprinkler head. These are used in applications where it is not acceptable to have the pipework full of water at all times.

In order to ensure effective and reliable protection, the following should apply:

  • Except for ‘permitted exceptions’, all areas of the building(s) should be protected by the sprinkler system.

  • The system should be designed, installed, commissioned and maintained in accordance with the LPC (Loss Prevention Council) Rules for Sprinkler Installations incorporating BS EN 12845, and by contractors whose competence is third-party certified to the appropriate approval level of the Loss Prevention Standard LPS 1048-1 Approved Sprinkler Contractors Scheme.

  • All equipment used in the system should be listed as approved by the LPCB (Loss Prevention Certification Board).

  • Weekly testing of the system should be conducted and formally recorded.

  • Key members of staff should be trained in the operation and testing of the system, and the actions to be taken on sprinkler activation.

  • System activation should be continuously monitored by an approved alarm receiving centre.  

For further information and guidance, reference should be made to the BAFSA Library of Technical Information, available at

Sprinkler System Impairments

Sprinkler systems (and, for that matter, other fire protection systems) are considered to be impaired any time that the system(s) are out of service, either partially or wholly. Such impairments are inevitable and fall into three categories:

  • Planned Impairments. These occur during scheduled maintenance or in connection with modification or extension of the sprinkler system.

  • Unplanned Impairments. Unplanned impairments arise when the sprinkler system is out of service due to damage or malfunction.

  • Concealed Impairments. These are potentially the most dangerous and occur, for example, when unknown to the personnel concerned, the system is left out of service following work on the system, or when control valves are deliberately or inadvertently isolated.

It is of vital importance that a written sprinkler impairment system is established, which should include, but is not limited to ensuring that:

  • A suitable and sufficient risk assessment of the work proposed, and its impact is undertaken prior to a planned impairment.

  • The appropriate authorities (Fire and Rescue Service, insurance provider, etc) are given prior notice that the system will be inoperative.

  • Prior to the isolation, draining or decommissioning of any part of the system, a thorough examination of all areas of the premises is to be made to confirm that there are no indications of fire.

  • The extent and duration of sprinkler impairments to be kept to a minimum.

  • In the case of manufacturing premises, planned impairments of an extended nature should preferably be deferred until the plant is idle.

  • Where impairment would deny protection to hazardous processes, consideration should be given to suspending such activity or deferring impairment to idle hours.

  • All hot work to be strictly prohibited. Where absolutely unavoidable, it is essential that an effective hot work permit system is rigorously pursued.

  • Fire extinguishers are placed in readiness, a sufficient number of trained staff made available and constant manning provided as required.

  • Management and staff continue to remain extremely vigilant as regards fire safety throughout the period of impairment and all established fire precautions observed.

  • On completion of work, verify by inspection and testing that the system has been returned to full operational status.

To reduce the risk of concealed impairments occurring, the following measures should be taken:

  • All sprinkler control valves to be secured in the correct position by the use of substantial padlocked chains or straps.

  • Improved protection provided to main control valves by the use of continually monitored anti-tamper alarms.

  • Visual inspection of all control valves undertaken at least weekly.

  • Weekly drain tests and, where appropriate, pump tests to be conducted ensuring that the system remains fully operational. 

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