Assured Advice for Fire Safety Risk Assessments
From the 16th July 2018 we at Assurity Consulting are able to offer Assured Advice for our fire risk assessments. This will see our scope of services covered under Primary Authority expand, with our Legionella risk assessments having become Assured Advice in 2017.
Many of our customers are already benefitting from the additional reassurance Assured Advice brings, but not everyone is familiar with the Primary Authority Scheme.
There have also been some updates on the information provided by the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS), so here is the information you need:
1. What is the Primary Authority?
Primary Authority is a statutory scheme, established by the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008 (as amended) (the RES Act) and started in April 2009.
It allows an eligible business to form a legally recognised partnership with a single local authority covering areas of regulatory compliance. The local authority becomes the 'primary authority' under the scheme. Its aim is to ensure that "local regulation is consistent at a national level and sufficiently flexible to address local circumstances."
The statutory responsibility for the operation of Primary Authority is the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) within the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
OPSS also manages the Primary Authority Register, which provides details on every registered partnership in place.
2. How does the Scheme work?
Primary Authority provides a mechanism where businesses can have access to assured and tailored advice on meeting environmental health, trading standards and/or fire safety regulations. This has the dual benefit of providing regulators with flexible and responsive ways of working and organisations within a Primary Authority partnership readily available access to consistent, assessed advice they can rely on.
The Scheme operates on two levels:
1. Direct partnership - This is a relationship between a primary authority and a single business. In essence the business forms its own partnership directly with the local authority or fire service and then receives advice tailored to its specific needs from them.
2. Co-ordinated partnership - This is where an organisation belongs to a trade association (or group) to benefit from the assessed Primary Authority advice provided by that group. In this case, the Primary Authority Advice remains via the primary authority (local authority, Fire and Rescue Service), but provided by the co-ordinated partner (trade association company or group) and tailored to the needs of its members. The co-ordinator is responsible for setting up and administering the Assured Advice to the "Regulated Group".
At Assurity Consulting we have two Co-ordinated Partnerships in place:
- One is with the City Of London Corporation and covers health and safety, specifically Legionella risk assessments.
- The other, for our fire related services, is with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and currently covers fire risk assessment.
3. And Assured Advice?
The Office for Product Safety and Standards website states "Primary Authority Advice is assured, which means that provided that you abide by the advice you are given, you won't need to follow conflicting advice from other sources. Your business should be protected against the risk of enforcement action from enforcing authorities that have different views on what you should be doing to achieve compliance."
In essence it is a mechanism to deliver assessed and reliable regulatory advice to and for your organisation and enforcing authorities should recognise and respect this advice when regulating your business.
4. Why would the Scheme benefit me?
As with all areas of compliance, and service provision in general, different organisations offer all sorts of assurances as to the level and quality of their offer. Some are established international standards, others are topic, discipline or industry based. The Primary Authority Scheme looks to deliver consistent, reliable and tailored advice for businesses and organisations, including
- how legal requirements apply to you and your business;
- how you can achieve compliance; and
- whether the controls you have in place are acceptable.
By offering Assured Advice you have the knowledge that the work are receiving has been recognised as suitable and sufficient or fit for purpose. For us at Assurity Consulting, it covers and includes:
Legionella risk assessment - "the competence and ability of Assurity Consulting to undertake suitable and sufficient Legionella risk assessments in accordance with the relevant legal requirements."
Fire risk assessment - "The methodology covering policies, procedures, assessment template and physical assessment as undertaken by Assurity Consulting demonstrate adequate arrangements are in place that result in suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment process."
5. Where can you benefit from the reassurance Primary Authority brings?
Letting in enforcers to audit assess, check and review your policies, procedures, processes, training and is not something you do lightly, but the benefits of offering services as Assured Advice in addition to our already broad UKAS and ISO scopes, for our customers were obvious.
Peace of mind
The process of our fire and Legionella risk assessments has been robustly challenged by enforcers and identified as meeting the required standards giving you information you can rely on.
Having a consistent and uniform approach to your compliance saves time as your Legionella and fire risk assessments are recognised by enforcing authorities, insurers and regulators as a credible and reliable assessment.
It saves you money because you are investing in a document that has been assured to deliver the compliance you need. It also helps eliminate inconsistencies and their associated costs to your organisation, by allowing you to target your resources to best effect.
It will make sure your ongoing fire and Legionella control is based on a reliable and reasoned risk assessment and that you have invested in a process that is of a recognised quality, to deliver on your health and safety compliance objectives.
It can enhance your organisation's reputation by demonstrating you have a culture to actively invest in the highest standards of health, safety and compliance.
Assurity Consulting are leading experts in workplace health, safety and environmental compliance. For more information on our services, and how we can help you, please contact us on tel. +44 (0)1403 269375 or email us.