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FRAs - being asked to specify what is legally mandatory

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witsd
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FRAs - being asked to specify what is legally mandatory

Post by witsd » Wed Aug 28, 2019 10:17 am

Hi all, just had this classic request made, and was wondering if anyone has a good way of clearly explaining to laypersons exactly how the lines are drawn?

As I see things, the FRA is a risk assessment and it's as simple as that. The things identified have the potential to cause harm, and if they were to do so, the organisation would likely be liable. A few of these items may be specifically required by law, but the majority will hinge upon guidance and the inspector's own knowledge and experience.

If the responsible person decides that an FRA's recommendation(s) are not required, then they need to be able to justify this, else they are potentially individually liable if / when something goes wrong.

I feel that any specification of 'this is / is not required by law' would be largely meaningless, and also be seen as a reason to dismiss things that are not 'legal'.

So, has anyone managed to get past this all-too-common stumbling block?
We often think that when we have completed our study of one we know all about two, because 'two' is 'one and one.' We forget that we still have to make a study of 'and.'

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Re: FRAs - being asked to specify what is legally mandatory

Post by ssmith65 » Wed Aug 28, 2019 11:55 am

I believe the law states you have to do what is `reasonably practicable` where you want to draw that line would be up to I suppose how risk adverse the company you work for is.

Often when I have recommendations from a FRA and get the `do we really need to do that` the answer from me is normally no we don't but I need you to email me to formally tell me you are directing me not to carry out this work so that if something was to happen I have evidence to say I was told not to do the work, this normally results in a, `ok, I think you should get it done` :)

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Re: FRAs - being asked to specify what is legally mandatory

Post by bernicarey » Wed Aug 28, 2019 3:26 pm

Briefly, my recommendations are split into 3 Priorities or Action levels, you can phrase them how you wish:

Priority 1 - Breach of legislation and a significant risk to life
Priority 2 - Breach of legislation, but not a significant risk to life at this time, however this may change
Priority 3 - Bad practice, without being a specific breach of fire legislation, so may well encourage regulator to scrutinise more closely

So a locked Fire Exit would be a 1, while a couple of emergency exit lights turning brown with old age would probably be a 2.
Having Fire Extinguishers individually scattered around the building like confetti might be a 3, because it's legal but dumb to do; with the recommendation to review locations to make them more convenient for checking and to discourage misuse as doorstops.
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Re: FRAs - being asked to specify what is legally mandatory

Post by Messy » Wed Aug 28, 2019 9:46 pm

Legally speaking, the most relevant part in relation to the OP is the Responsible Person must make general fire precautions and the risk assessment is the tool to do that. Plus
  • He must record the findings of the FRA in certain circumstances - that is record what is in place and what is needed to satisfy the need for him to make general fire precautions

    He must record the emergency plan

    He must make arrangements to manage fire safety including a review

    He must appoint persons to help him discharge responsibilities

    If an employer, he must train his staff

    He must maintain fire safety infrastructure
How he ensures sufficient escape routes, warning systems, lighting, compartments, first aid firefighting etc is all a matter of opinion, guided by various recognised guides and standards - none of which are law (except the sign & signal regs for fire signage)

As long as that provision is suitable and sufficient, that is all that is needed

You as a consultant may say I need a cat L1 fire detection system in my two room portacabin. I, as the Resp Person am not obliged to heed your advice and may decide a shout of 'fire' is sufficient . Its down to the Enforcement Authority and Courts to define suitable and sufficient - and by the way, I would be right and not you!!!! :)

Many consultants over prescribe to protect their reputation. I have seen it so many times. Completely excessive provision rather than the minimum required. Who cares as the consultant isn't paying for this over provision, despite it being only him that is gaining from it

So no, as usual The Responsible Person can delegate the work to undertake the FRA, but not the responsibility for applying general fire precautions.

I would urge any Resp Person to challenge any excessive measures recorded on their FRA. There's a lot of sharks out there, even some big extinguisher suppliers have been know to send sales Reps out to complete FRAs. Guess what? The findings include dozens of unnecessary extinguishers

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Re: FRAs - being asked to specify what is legally mandatory

Post by witsd » Thu Sep 05, 2019 4:31 pm

Cheers guys. Good thoughts.
We often think that when we have completed our study of one we know all about two, because 'two' is 'one and one.' We forget that we still have to make a study of 'and.'

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