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Author Topic: Prioritising Risks  (Read 644 times)
James Farmer
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« on: February 22, 2017, 03:18:15 PM »

Hi guys

I am just wondering if there is a set standard for the time frames in which remedial works picked up on FRA's need to be carried out.

I know there is the profiling set out in the PAS 79 methods but have also seen fire services use ones such as Priority 1 = within 1 week, Priority 2 = 1 month etc etc

There is also the issue of whats classed as minor or limited costs, whats minor to one business is not to another.

Is there a preferred method or is it simply common sense on your findings.

Thank You
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Mike Buckley
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« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2017, 01:20:50 PM »

My personal view is that you cannot put time scales into a Fire Risk Assessment. The Fire Brigades have statutory powers and they can issue Enforcement Notices or Prohibition Notices and state conditions within the notices which if breached can lead to prosecution. The Fire Risk Assessor has no such power.

Another issue is exactly what priority do you give each action, for example screwing a sign back onto a wall is a quick and easy job which can be done rapidly, whereas installing a fire alarm system is going to be a long term job particularly if budgets have to be raised, quotes obtained and approved etc. You can hardly say that fixing the sign is a higher priority than installing a fire alarm system.

At the end of the day you have no control over what the Responsible Person does you can only advise, it is up to the Fire Brigades to actually enforce. The Responsible Person will have to justify their decisions to the Fire Brigade as to whether or not the issue should have been addressed. Although in the worst case the Risk Assessor may also have to justify their decisions on priorities.

Personally, I used an Immediate, High, Medium and Low system. Immediate meant I was so worried that I wanted it fixed there and then if possible. High meant the work needed to be done, Medium meant that in my opinion the work should be carried out and Low meant it would be nice if the work was carried out but not essential.
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The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be preferred to those who think they've found it.
James Farmer
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« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2017, 02:19:20 PM »

Thanks Mike

I agree with your points.

What was on my mind was what you stated regarding justification, a fire service coming along and asking why have you given this time scale when it should have been that etc although maybe a little harsh if the time you have given is more than reasonable in assisting the business to get the work done.

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Mike Buckley
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« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2017, 03:55:20 PM »

My point was, as a fire risk assessor you do not set time scales. The issue with justification and the fire brigade occurs if you set a medium priority and the fire brigade thinks it should be high priority. Then you may have to justify your decision based on the factors you found, bearing in mind some I/Os look upon guidance as rules. (see debates elsewhere on this forum).

If you only set priorities and do not set timescales then it up to the RP do the work and argue about what is reasonably practical which quite often is based on factors outside your expertise or knowledge. For example a number of corporate bodies have financial limits depending on the level of the person, take hotels the general manager may only be able to authorise a spend of up to ?5,000, beyond that approval has to be given at a higher management level. Alternatively higher management is not going to spend any money on the place this year as they are going to do a total refurb or even close the place next year. You may not know this and it is possible that the RP you are dealing with does not this either.



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The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be preferred to those who think they've found it.
James Farmer
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« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2017, 04:03:11 PM »

Hear your points and its good advice so thanks Smiley
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Phoenix
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« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2017, 01:14:35 AM »

Agree with all the foregoing.  Here's a little bit of the picture as I see it.

Virtually all buildings have some shortfalls in their fire safety provisions.
Prior to any FRA being undertaken there is a gap between the ideal 'safe' building and the actual building.  But no one knows about this gap, they don't know if it exists and, if it does, they don't know what it is.  If they don't have a fire, which is most likely by a long stretch, they get away with it.  If they do have a fire, the RP is culpable and there is no getting away from it.   

When a FRA is undertaken in a building the gap becomes known.  From this point on the RP is exposed to risk.  If the safety gap leads to an accident/fire after the FRA, the RP knew about the shortfall whilst it persisted and a law court could take a very dim view of this.  But if the RP had commenced remedial actions, even if the remedial actions were long winded and had only got so far as requesting funds, then a law court might judge that due diligence had been displayed due to the fact that the RP has acted on information as soon as it became available and was following some established protocols for correcting building faults.  I only say 'might' there as it very much depends on precise circumstances.

When I do a FRA and present a remedial action plan, I recommend that the RP commences those remedial actions as soon as possible so as to minimise the risk to which he or she is exposed.  I don't expect all the work to be completed quickly, I understand that some actions may require months to complete but the RP should start putting some sort of action plan in place almost straight away. 

Most risk assessors will give some sort of relative priorities to the items in their plan and this, I appreciate, is the crux of the original question.  The prioritisation can be in the form of dates, time scales, a quantitative scale of priority or some qualitative expression of priority, e.g. some loosely defined categories of high, medium and low.  However the prioritisation is presented, the RP must not sit on the document without taking some sort of initial steps.  In that way, he or she would be exposing themselves to the maximum risk.

All of the faults identified in a FRA have to be addressed and the prioritisation of the remedial actions is as fundamentally important as the identification of the faults in the first place.  The RP is not equipped to prioritise but the risk assessor is.

So
  • The prioritisation is fundamentally important
  • It may take a number of forms, any of which might be acceptable
  • Whichever form it takes, the RP must start actioning the list almost immediately
  • The timescale to complete the tasks is often driven by the complexity and scale of the remedial actions
  • It should be borne in mind that fire risk assessors cannot stop all accidents/fires from occurring but a reasonable, professional and overall pragmatic approach by both the RP and the fire risk assessor will often demonstrate due diligence to any party who may have to make a judgement



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James Farmer
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« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2017, 03:40:50 PM »

Thanks very much for the replies both.
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