Risk Assessment and the 'Responsible Person'.
Section 9(1) of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 refers to the risk assessment the responsible person must carry out. It has firmly transferred the onus of fire safety in England and Wales from the prescriptive approach (overseen by the fire authority) to a new approach based on risk assessment, where the person responsible for the premises needs to decide how to address the hazards:
"The responsible person must make a suitable and sufficient assessment of risks to which relevant persons are exposed for the purpose of identifying the general fire precautions he needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed on him by or under this Order."
Where do I start with a Risk Assessment?
RC44 is the official guidance on providing a fire risk assessment of extract ventilation in catering kitchens. It is aimed principally at the person responsible for ensuring that such an assessment is performed and it explains the legislative background to the need to carry out and record the findings of fire risk assessments.
RC44 aims to help the responsible person identify potential hazards associated with kitchen extract ventilation, principally those created by inadequate cleaning regimes leading to excessive build-up of cooking oil deposits.
RC44 gives background information on the grease residues that can result from different styles of cooking, and on the main components of extract systems. It also considers the five principal stages of an assessment, combining appropriate information with relevant questions - evaluate the hazards, record the findings and keep the assessment under review, particularly if there are any changes made to the ventilation system.
RC44 also emphasises the importance of regular cleaning in order to keep to an acceptable minimum the build-up of grease deposits in kitchen extract ductwork. It gives guidance on carrying out a fire risk assessment of such ductwork as just one aspect of an evaluation of fire hazards in a catering kitchen.
Insurance & Enforcement
Many insurance policies contain specific conditions, relating to regimes of cleaning. If a fire occurs in kitchen extract ventilation and can be shown to be associated with inadequate cleaning of ductwork then it could jeopardise the right to indemnity for loss or damage under the relevant policy.
Also, failure to satisfy inspections by statutory enforcement authorities (such as fire and environmental health authorities) can lead to closure of a business and even prosecution.
The Risk Assessment: Identify, Assess, Evaluate, Record, Review
|1. Identify ignition hazards|
Examples of possible hazards might be:
|2. Risk assessment|
The ranking of each of the following risk areas (each broken down into further detail in the full RC44) as either Low, Normal or High:
|3. Evaluate the hazards|
Evaluate in the following way:
Always ask can more be done?
|4. Keep records|
Keep and maintain records of the following in a safe place. These are essential for assessing the necessary frequency and extent of cleaning and crucially may provide a defence against criminal prosecution in the event of a fire:
|5. Review & revise||Review and revise the fire risk assessment regularly, especially when changes to the kitchen are introduced. Also, it is essential to check insurance policy for conditions specific to cooking|
Click here to view RC44 in it's entirety.
How Vent can support you
At Vent we support you in your legal obligation to carry out a risk assessment in accordance with RC44. At our initial site survey we identify, assess and evaluate potential fire risk hazards, covering areas such as the grease control systems/ processes currently in place, the architecture of the extraction system (total length, number of bends etc) and access. We will also spend time understanding your existing processes in relation to cleaning and grease management, along with your cooking regime. All information is securely recorded with monitoring carried out and measurements taken periodically to monitor the level of fire risks across all hazards identified. For a no obligation site survey incorporating RC44, please get in touch.