Fire hazard audits, more popularly known as fire safety audits, focus on examining the area for problems that may impede fire safety. This means checking to make sure the organization is code compliant with fire protection regulations that take care of fire alarms, sprinkler systems, firefighting equipment, emergency protocol, etc.
These audits usually focus on questions such as:
- What do the facility’s safety workplace policies look like?
- How could the safety program become more efficient?
- Are there any legal risks the organization should be aware of?
- Is employee training comprehensive and up to date?
Asking questions is essential for discovering potential problems. This can be done during the audit itself as well. Conducting a fire hazard audit includes six key steps. They are as follows:
- Prepare for the audit by alerting staff, gathering necessary documents, setting goals, and establishing a timeline.
- Perform the initial research and record any relevant data
- Review the individual’s or team’s findings
- Make any recommendations based on the found data
- Take action to fix any problems
- Make the results available to everyone
If this general format is used, your company will be on the right track for creating an even safer workplace. Speaking of which, this audit should be completed annually at the very minimum. There are some special exceptions to think about as well. If any of the following events occur, the organization must perform a fire hazard audit to ensure all operations are safe for workers:
- Changes made to the layout of the building, a process, or any essential equipment
- An increase in the number of people/workers in the building
- The occurrence of a fire related accident
- Storage for hazardous substances is being implemented or changed
By asking questions, knowing the general process, and recognizing when another audit is needed, your organization will be able to not only keep employees safe, but also protect the property from fire damage.
Fire Safety Inspections vs. Fire Safety Audits
Fire safety inspections are often confused with fire safety audits, some people even refer to them as if they are the same thing. This is far from the truth. While both do examine the state of the environmental safety and health program of a facility, each go about it in a different way.
Safety inspections, such as those for fire safety, focus on the physical facility, its hazards, and the controls in place to prevent injuries.
On the other hand, safety audits for fire hazards goes past what safety inspections look for and delve deep into workplace safety systems. Audits also consider any additional human factors that lead to hazardous conditions.
One of the most notable differences between these two safety protocols is who completes them. Audits are normally completed by third party companies. Unlike inspections that are completed by safety managers who work at the facility. Fire safety audits must be done by a third-party company because employees may only see what they want to see. This is an essential safety precaution to ensure companies are staying compliant with the applicable fire codes and not passing up necessary safety protocol.
Unfortunately, some facilities may not be able to afford this luxury. Because of this, OSHA does allow organizations to perform what are called “self-audits,” but these instances require the auditor to be accompanied by a competent person who can identify workplace fire hazards.
In the end, we must stress that having an independent fire safety auditor is the best way to go as they will provide you with important insights that employees or management may miss. This can ultimately save lives and prevent extremely dangerous fires.
The Essentials of Fire Safety Checks
Whether it be a regular EHS check at the workplace or for something as specific as a fire hazard audit, there are a handful of essentials that you must remember to establish a routine that makes the most of your audits as well as creates a space that will continue to abide by the rules long after the audits have been completed.
Let’s go over these essential points:
- Consistency with audits is key
- Assemble knowledgeable and objective auditors
- Prepare all the necessary components in advance
- Make sure records are kept
- Put together reports
- Use modern technology for hazard prevention
Overall, fire safety audits and fire risk assessments are essential for a well-rounded fire safety plan in any facility.
- What is a fire safety inspection?
- What is a fire risk assessment?
- Why is fire safety education and training important?
- Who can give fire safety training?
- What is fire protection?
- What should be included in fire safety training?
- Are fire sprinklers required?
- How are flammable and combustible materials an explosion hazard?
- What are some examples of fire protection measures?