Fire prevention in the workplace is a serious matter. Not only will fire put a business and property at risk, but also the lives of staff. While some situations are out of our control (such as natural disasters or arson), most fires are preventable. So we’ve written up several steps you can take to ensure the risk is minimal.
A key step to fire prevention is general tidiness around the workplace. Ensuring all tools, equipment and materials are stored away safely. All waste should be disposed of properly into a designated bin store area. This eliminates a build-up of potentially flammable materials. Walkways and corridors must be kept clear of any debris as this could cause a trip hazard on an escape route. All machinery should also be regularly serviced and checked for any potential breakdowns – whether this be mechanical or electrical.
Education is vital to ensuring fire prevention and safety. This starts with regular fire risk assessments to identify dangers in the workplace and eliminate them. Staff can then be informed of risks and educated what to look for and how to deal with them. Nominating trusted staff members to become Fire Wardens will also help to spread the responsibility and improve vigilance when identifying hazards.
Smoking of course presents a big fire hazard. Designate a smoking area in a safe place away from the building and any hazardous materials. Also, supplying a safe place for cigarettes and ash to be disposed of will help to extinguish any flames. For instance, leaving ash trays or a metal bucket filled with sand in the smoking area. Empty ash trays and buckets regularly to ensure there is no build-up of flammable materials.
A 2018 BBC report found that faulty electrical appliances “cause 60 fires a week” – highlighting the risk they pose unless regularly inspected. Most faults are identifiable just by looking at the appliance, however some are internal so require a PAT (Portable Appliance Testing) test to ensure nothing is missed. Always ensure any electrical testing or repairs are carried out by someone qualified to do so. Also, don’t overload power strips with plugs or fuseless adaptors, as this can also cause a fire.
According to National Fire Chief’s Council statistics, Arson accounted for 50.5% of all fires attended in 2017/18. Although we mentioned earlier that arson attacks are out of our control, a strong security system will go a long way in deterring people from attempting arson. Erecting perimeter fences, installing CCTV cameras and ensuring all areas are well lit will deter people from even attempting arson, as the risk of getting caught is too great.
Introducing fire prevention practices should be of the utmost priority to employers. Fire kills and can completely destroy a business. By following these small steps, you can greatly minimise the risk and prevent a tragedy happening. For more information related to fire safety, read our other blog posts; ‘Fire exit route: Your guide to getting out safely‘ and ‘Essential fire door hardware‘