Work process fire safety
This page provides information about HSE's role.
Process fire precautions
HSE is mainly concerned with process fire precautions. These are the special fire precautions, required in any workplace in connection with the work process that is being carried out there (including the storage of articles, substances and materials relating to that work process). They are to prevent or reduce the likelihood of a fire breaking out and if a fire does occur, to reduce its spread and intensity. Some examples of process fire precautions are:
- storage of flammable liquids in process areas, workrooms, laboratories and similar working areas
- ventilation systems to dilute or remove flammable gas or vapour
- selecting equipment that will not be a source of ignition
- extraction systems to remove combustible materials such as wood dust
Process fire precautions are enforced by HSE or the local authority, under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act); the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSWR); and more specific health and safety legislation such as the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR).
- HMSO - Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR)
- The health and safety toolbox
DSEAR includes a risk assessment requirement plus measures for reducing risks from fire and explosion arising from dangerous substances (eg flammables such as petrol, paints, solvents) at the workplace. DSEAR also requires employers to maintain work processes in an efficient state, in working order and in good repair, but again this is based on the findings of the risk assessment.
There are certain sectors where, because of the nature of the work, HSE has enforcement responsibility for all fire precautions (including general fire precautions) such as offshore installations, underground mines, nuclear sites, ships under construction and some construction sites. During construction and before final fire protection is in place, the building will be more vulnerable to fire.
Completed buildings have the standards of fire protection required by the Building Regulations 2010 which deal with building controls in new and altered premises. They define the types of buildings and building work which are subject to controls and specify the requirements for building design and construction in relation to, for example, the health and safety of building users, energy conservation, access and facilities for the disabled, and fire safety (including means of warning; escape routes; internal and external fire spread). CLG is responsible for building regulations in England and Wales and Scottish Building Standards Agency is responsible for separate building legislation in Scotland. Further information can be found on the CLG and SE websites.
Sources of information
Advice on carrying out a fire risk assessment, including a 5-step risk assessment checklist and detailed guidance for businesses, is available on the CLG website and, for Scotland, on the fire law website - see links above. If you require information in Welsh, please visit:
Advice for employers (particularly those with small and medium sized businesses) and the self-employed on the basic requirements of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations can be found in the HSE leaflet:
Fire Protection Association (FPA) is the UK’s national fire safety organisation. It identifies and draws attention to fire dangers by providing information and advice through leaflets; publications and visual aids; a library/information service; training courses; seminars and conferences.
You can find out more about FPA on their website at or you can contact them at:
Moreton in Marsh
Tel: 01608 812500
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) deals with consumer safety and protection.
- Dangerous substances and explosive atmospheres ACOP L138 (Second edition)
- Controlling fire and explosion risks in the workplace
- The health and safety toolbox: How to control risks at work