Facilities Management and Risk Management: Two Sides of the Same Coin

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Written by: Alcumus
29th October

With the aims of achieving a safe and efficient working environment, effective facilities management and successful risk management go hand in hand. Where safe working environments and safe processes are requirements (both morally and legally), how can they not?

Health and safety touches upon almost every aspect of a facility manager’s job. Whether it’s maintenance or refurbishment (which may for instance, involve working at height and the use of subcontractors), inspections or cleaning, there will be requirements for risk assessments, adequate worker competence and safe systems of work. 

Of the myriad functions which are fulfilled by Facilities Managers, fire safety is arguably their most important undertaking. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 places responsibility for compliance on the ‘responsible person’ (in Scotland this falls to a ‘duty holder’) and this person must ensure that a suitable and sufficient assessment of fire risks has been carried out.

When it comes to fire risk assessment, competence is key. Duty holders – particularly in small or low-risk premises - may be able to carry out their own fire risk assessment. Those carrying out a fire risk assessment must be satisfied that they are able to:

  • Identify the fire hazards
  • Identify people at risk
  • Evaluate fire safety measures provided and/or required to protect people
  • Review the arrangements for management of fire safety
  • Formulate an action plan
  • Record the significant findings and, if necessary, implement an action plan
  • Keep the assessment up to date

The consequences of a fire can, for organisations as well as individuals, be severe, so it’s important that the responsible person knows their limits. In higher risk environments it may be necessary to enlist the services of a health and safety specialist who has experience in carrying out this task.

When it comes to fire safety, the tragedy that occurred in Grenfell Tower was a huge wake-up call and change will soon be coming in the wake of recommendations set out in the report by Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Steering Group.

Clearly, fire safety is a large piece of the FM puzzle, but it is only one piece. When looking at the causes of fatal accidents, it’s clear that Facilities Management has a role to play in accident prevention in most (if not all) of the main causes.

Falls from a height, being struck by a moving vehicle and being struck by a moving object continue to be the three main causes of fatal injury, between them accounting for over half of all fatal injuries each year since at least 2001/02. In 2017/18, 35 fatal injuries to workers were due to falls from a height, compared to 27 in 2016/17.

With tougher sentencing guidelines in force and seven-figure fines now becoming commonplace, risk management must be viewed as integral to the function of all Facilities Managers. 

For more details on safety, Facilities Management and how Alcumus can help, take a look at our White Paper.