Workplace fires can be some of the most devastating, due primarily to how many people frequent a work environment at any one time. Both staff and patrons contribute to the footfall of a workplace, so the potential for victims is high. It is why doing everything you can to prevent one is of paramount importance.
This guide will take you through the top ten ways to prevent a workplace fire and keep your business, employees, and customers safe. Many of them are easy to enforce but make a significant difference.
1. Maintain Electrical Safety Throughout
One of the leading causes of fire in all workplaces is due to electrical failures. From short-circuiting devices to faulty wiring, electricity poses a significant risk.
Maintain electrical safety by using equipment within OSHA guidelines and ensuring that employees know how to recognize hazards.
2. Store Chemical Products Safely
Numerous businesses make the mistake of thinking flammable chemical products aren’t something they need to worry about unless they work in industrial settings.
In reality, most workplaces have some form of flammable chemical fluid on the premises. Take stock and ensure the more volatile products are stored correctly.
3. Exercise Caution in the Workplace Kitchen
Most offices have a kitchen for employees to heat food, make coffee, and take breaks. These areas cause more office fires than you might think. Indeed, 29% of office fires resulted from cooking equipment. The best practice here is to impress on workers to turn off the stove and not leave equipment like drip coffee makers plugged in and running hot.
4. Implement Fire Training
One of the best ways to keep everyone safe is through proper safety training. Accidents can always happen, but you should make any attempt to minimize this risk. Your greatest ally in the fight against workplace fires is a knowledgeable and organized team of staff.
5. Practice Fire Safety Drills
A huge component of effective fire safety training is knowing what to do in the event of one. While prevention is the desired goal, you can’t eliminate the risk of fire. Ensuring that each of your employees knows what to do after discovering a fire is essential to reduce the risk of severe injury.
Your drill should include properly raising the alarm after discovering flames and where to meet after evacuating the building.
6. Maintain Fire Prevention Equipment
Smoke detectors and sprinklers are our primary targets here, but any fire prevention equipment your building needs requires frequent checkups to ensure they are still effective.
Failure to comply with fire safety regulations is a punishable offense depending on the building where you work. If a fire breaks out and you have not taken the proper precautions, you will be held legally responsible.
7. Don’t Block Fire Safety Access
In addition to having the right equipment in place, it’s important not to block access to anything that would prove necessary during a fire. It is especially true for fire extinguishers, which can often end up obscured behind desks.
Additionally, emergency exits must be kept completely clear at any time. During an emergency, even minor blockages can cause havoc. Don’t allow machinery or any other materials to block a potentially life-saving route.
8. Keep Up With Maintenance
Having smoke alarms and sprinklers fitted is one thing, but staying on top of their maintenance is another. Frequent, full maintenance service is highly advisable.
The routine checkups don’t just apply to your fire prevention equipment either. All of your machinery needs to stay up to date. Overheating has been the cause of numerous workplace fires in the past.
9. Stay Tidy and Take Out the Trash
The less fuel there is for fire to feed on, the better. Wherever possible, keep your spaces clean and tidy. This way, if a fire does catch, it will have less to fuel itself with and won’t spread nearly as quickly.
It may only make a few minutes difference in some cases, but those minutes could prove to be crucial. A big part of this is taking out the trash ASAP. Don’t let bags pile up, as that’s a disaster waiting to happen.
10. Have a Designated Smoking Area
Smoking indoors isn’t advised at the best of times, much less so in the workplace. However, even if staff take their cigarettes outdoors, there is still a risk of starting a fire near or on the premises.
To combat this, allocate a specific area for smokers to gather rather than allowing them to go anywhere. It will limit the likelihood of a fire accidentally starting from a lit cigarette or ashes.
Fire Safety Is Everyone’s Responsibility
Though it may not be possible to rule out the risk of a workplace fire, it is possible to take vital preventative measures. It is the responsibility of everyone in the workplace to reduce the risk of fire, and only a collaborative effort can yield positive results.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking it will never happen to you—make positive changes today.