Who is Responsible for Completing a Fire Risk Assessment?

With so much to manage in commercial and public buildings as well as private spaces, knowing who holds responsibility for different tasks can feel like a bit of a minefield – especially given the ever-changing regulations about fire safety, hazardous materials, and overall health and safety.

In this blog, we’re focussing specifically on asbestos and fire risk assessments, looking at whose job it is to conduct and complete these assessments across different property types.

Assigning the Responsible Person

Typically, if you are the one who is responsible for the management of a building and the safety of its users and inhabitants, then you are the responsible person who should conduct fire and other risk assessments.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you own the building; for example, if you are the tenant of a commercial space or you are the designated building manager for a leased space then this responsibility may fall in your hands rather than the individual who owns the building.

Similarly, if the building is owned by a trust or organisation, then the responsible individual will be assigned according to their role in the building, as health and safety manager or the overall facilities manager for the site.

To cut a long story short, when it comes to assigning the correct person to complete and report on any risk assessments, this role must be outlined very clearly as per the Fire Safety Act of 2021.

The Fire Safety Act of 2021 and the role it plays in fire risk assessments

The Fire Safety Act was introduced in 2021 in response to the London Grenfell disaster and ensures that any commercial or residential property which is occupied by multiple individuals or tenants is managed by one responsible person in terms of fire risk assessments and other safety procedures.

Whether this individual is the building manager, owner, an employee whose role is around risk assessments and safety, or an external agency or facilities manager, the most important thing to note about this role under the Fire Safety Act is that in the event of an incident caused by neglect, that individual is held responsible.

The role of the responsible person who handles fire risk assessments and other safety areas

The role of the responsible person is to ensure that risk assessments are up to date and reflective of the property as it stands – noting any problem areas, removing or minimising risk factors where possible, and examining the various components of the risk assessment regularly to ensure that the whole building is fully informed.

This includes testing fire doors, ensuring that signage is up to date and clearly labelled, conducting fire alarm tests, and matching the size of the building with the different regulations which apply.

For more information on fire risk assessments and the role of the responsible person, it’s important to familiarise yourself with the details of the Fire Safety Act 2021. You can also get in touch with us for more advice on fire risk assessments and asbestos surveys, keeping your buildings safe for everyone inside.

When was asbestos banned in the UK?

Prior to the UK-wide ban, asbestos was a popular material which was used in the construction industry as an effective insulator, in flooring, across roofing tiles, and in the brakes of domestic cars to name just a few examples.

It wasn’t until asbestos started to be directly linked to debilitating and long-term health concerns that the substance was tested and eventually banned – with the first UK ban coming into effect in 1985 for blue and brown asbestos, and the ban extending to include all white asbestos too in 1999.

As such, any building or house which was built before 2000 may have asbestos concealed within its walls, with our asbestos surveys designed to identify, test, and report on the structure and safety of any remaining asbestos.

Why was asbestos banned?

Asbestos was banned for use in the UK once it was directly linked with a series of health concerns and conditions known as asbestosis. This condition which settles in the lungs is caused by the small particles of broken asbestos being breathed in through the air – making breathing more difficult and acting as a fast track to certain types of cancer and other conditions. For those who are already vulnerable, it can create severe and long-term problems with their lungs.

Asbestos is also now a known carcinogenic substance which means that it can induce cancer, with the brown and blue forms of asbestos being the most harmful and damaging (although white asbestos is also directly connected to poor health and long-term conditions).

Crucially, the effects of asbestos cannot be reversed once the material has settled in the lungs. That’s why the substance has been banned so efficiently – because there is no cure for asbestosis, and those who were exposed to the material in the past are now living with the consequences.

Why don’t you just remove all the asbestos when you find it?

Following an asbestos survey, clients are presented with a report which outlines the stability of any asbestos found and how best to proceed. While some are transitioned to swift removal, others are placed under an asbestos management service, which sees regular updates and checks to ensure that the material is not breaking down and causing further issues.

The reason why not every case of asbestos is upgraded to removal straight away is because asbestos when fully intact and stable is not unsafe. In fact, the removal process itself could cause more harm than good, in breaking down and exposing the space to asbestos particles which were not there before.

Every case of asbestos is dealt with individually, with our team of experts in the UK able to deliver surveys and subsequent reports with a quick turnaround and at a cost effective and accessible level for all clients.

Think you’ve got asbestos in your home or property?

If you think there may be asbestos present in your home or building, or you want to book a survey to be sure and to protect the wellbeing of your family and loved ones, South East Asbestos can help. Delivering fast surveys and comprehensive reports, with advice and ongoing support no matter what we find behind the walls of your property.