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It could be argued that this was not seriously detrimental to fire safety in workplaces.In general, the certification regime under the Fire Precautions Act formed a safety net' in the case of premises for which the employer had failed to carry out the fire risk assessment.The lack of definitive guidance on fire risk assessments arose, in part, from a desire on the part of Government to avoid being prescriptive.The thrust of the Workplace Regulations was non-prescriptive, and there was a clear policy to move away from what many had claimed to be the over-prescriptive approach adopted in previous legislation; this philosophy extended to the avoidance of any clear definition of the content and format of a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment.A number of other professional bodies have subsequently followed this lead and created similar registers.It is a matter of public record that around 40% of applicants fail to achieve registration.This led to difficulties for employers and their advisers. There was no specification for fire risk assessments, against which they could seek quotations from consultants.Moreover, the deliverables of each consultant would be likely to appear entirely different; each might or might not be suitable and sufficient, but who was to judge and how?
What should be included in the fire risk assessment? To what extent were measures to prevent fire required to be considered?
BSI's first thought was to commission a textbook on the subject.
However, a textbook would only have constituted one author's personal ideas on fire risk assessment.
For some years, many enforcing authorities failed to enforce vigorously the requirements of this legislation, including the requirement to carry out a fire risk assessment.
In part, this situation arose from advice to enforcing authorities by the Government to adopt the lighter touch' in enforcement.