14 Jul HOW TO PREVENT FIRES IN THE WORKPLACE
How to prevent fires in the workplace: Ensuring the correct workplace fire prevention is not only required by law, but can save the lives of work colleagues and staff and keep them safe in the event of a fire or explosion.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) 2005 requires all work premises to be in possession of the correct fire safety assessments. This is completely understandable when many victims of fire in the workplace do not fully recover, not only in loss of confidence in the safety of their place of work, but also many personal belongings that have been lost due to incorrect training.
It is therefore inevitable that you, or the building owner correctly adheres to the guidelines. To help you become familiar with keeping up good practice when looking how to prevent fires in the workplace. We have come up with some helpful tips that will help keep you and your staff safe.
All workplace premises must carry out a fire risk assessment in order to stay safe from fire. Employers should conduct regular fire assessment and train staff to familiarize them on what to do in the event of a fire. Whilst it is against the law not to have a current fire risk assessment, guidelines can vary from one business type to another.
A nursery for example may have different guidelines than a more high risk premises such as a paint factory. By following our fire safety checklist you can ensure that you take the necessary steps to create a safer workplace for yourself, staff and visitors.
Workplace Fire Safety
- Fire escape staircase and passage ways should be kept clear and free from any obstructions.
- Do you have the required fire extinguishers & fire sprinkler systems installed.
- Are the magnetic and automatic doors working correctly and connected to the fire system control panel.
- Ensure the emergency lighting system is maintained in case of a black out.
- Fire extinguishers should be fully charged and easily accessible
- If present, is the fire hose and pump system maintained and passed.
- Sprinkler systems should be tested and maintained on a regular basis.
- Fire doors should remain closed and free from any obstruction at all times.
- All escape doors and emergency exits should be clearly marked and kept clear.
- Correctly store any chemicals
- Learn and teach fire extinguisher types and uses
- Remove excess waste paper and garbage
- Practice regular fire drills
- Be cautious of sources of ignition where explosives are present
1. Correctly store any chemicals
Whilst it may be overlooked by many businesses, its importent that you ensure the correct storage of chemicals no matter the size or business type.
While many businesses do not class themselves as carrying chemicals, these dangerous explosives and flammable liquids are not only found in the higher end categories such as paint stripper and petroleum based products.
Much smaller flammable items such as various cleaning products should be stored away in a cupboard and display clear warning labels of its contents. By keeping these products in a contained area, you are massively reducing the risk of any explosion should a fire break out.
2. Fire extinguisher: Learn & teach
There are 5 main types of fire extinguishers which each have been specially designed to help tackle fires of different classes.
By providing your staff and colleagues with the knowledge that they need to know in relation to the various types of fire, different working environments & the correct fire extinguisher will help prevent the fire from spreading and save the lives of yourself and your staff.
Those who are responsible for the handling of any fire safety training equipment should be in full knowledge and have a complete understanding on the safe use of the equipment.
3. Remove excess waste and garbage
All areas of work should be free from excess garbage and waste. By monitoring that all workplace waste is properly disposed of is one of the most effective ways that you can help prevent fires in the workplace.
By organising a waste disposal rota for your workplace could mean the difference between a small fire and a raging inferno.
Workplace premises such as garages or mechanical outlets tend to have more chemicals such as oils and cloths with petroleum on. It is essential that any cloths, towels or paper are kept well away from any naked flames or sources of ignition.
4. Practice regular fire drills with staff
Whilst not the most favoured day of the week for many staff, holding regular fire drills and evacuation plans is essential in order to maintain a robust fire safety system in the workplace.
- Is there a system in place where you can identify if there is anybody trapped in the building?
Do your staff attend regular fire training and fire drills?
- All employees and staff should know the correct fire escape routes and evacuation plans.
- Wardens should be appointed to conduct the fire safety training and fire drills.
A fire warden system should be in place with properly trained personnel who are responsible for the safety of others during an emergency evacuation situation. By holding regular fire drills, you are educating and protecting your colleagues to enable them to know exactly what to do in the unfortunate event of a workplace fire.
5. Be cautious of sources of ignition where explosives are present
Premises of higher risk such as garages, workshops or any place where there is an increased level of flammable liquids need to ensure that all containers are clearly marked and stored away in a cupboard or locked unit. Sealed containers that hold the liquid can still explode and catch fire even if the tops are fully tight.
For this reason it is extremely important, otherwise potentially life-threating to make sure that absolutely no sources of ignition are present in or around these areas.
Fire Detection and Smoke Alarms
- Is there a clear procedure in place in the case of a fire breakout?
- Is there a sufficient amount of smoke detectors fitted on each floor of the building?
- Are fire tests and drills carried out on a regular basis.
- Is there a fully functional fire alarm system installed and tested by a professional?
- Is the fire detection system maintained on a regular basis?
Emergency Warning and Evacuation Systems
- Fire warden intercom systems should be tested, in working order and free from obstruction.
- Are the workplace evacuation plans located and displayed in easy to access areas.
- Are new employees together with existing staff properly trained in the event of an emergency?
- Do you have sufficient evacuation routes for staff or visitors with disabilities?
- Staff should be fully trained in the use of all fire safety equipment.
- Are all the manual emergency call points clear in working order and clear from obstructions?
- Staff should be informed of any changes to the fire safety procedure and evacuation processes.
- Emergency exit signage should be displayed properly and clearly visible.
- Fire risk safety assessments should be reviewed by a professional on a regular basis.
- Have the necessary steps been taken to address the hazards or have the risks been controlled?
- Is there a current fire assessment that was carried out by a professional.
- There should be enough electrical sockets installed to prevent overloading.
- Ensure that all electrical power supplies and outlets are checked regularly for signs of wear and tear.
- Machinery should be frequently checked for oil leaks and other issues that could lead to overheating.
- If a damaged electrical outlet is found, is it replaced straight away?
- Are areas outside the workplace clear from debris, rubbish and obstruction?
- Ensure that any flammable or explosive materials are removed from places that contain electrical items.
- Containers should be disposed of correctly in line with the relevant guidelines.
- Keep flammable liquids are kept in a secure, well ventilated area and check for any spillages or leaks.
- Staff should be properly trained on the correct usage of all kitchen equipment and appliances.
Are the kitchen extraction and ventilation units working and maintained?
- Kitchens and other cooking areas should be fitted with a dry chemical fire extinguisher.
- Check all kitchen equipment is free from faults and wear and tear.
Additional Fire Safety Management
- Do the premises have clearly signed designated smoking areas and are all other areas displaying “No Smoking” notices.
- Are there systems in place to prevent the risk of arson.
- Are special procedures for your specific business type created and followed?
- Are the guidelines that are relevant to your business adhered to?
How To Prevent Fires in The Workplace: Do’s & Dont’s
- Activate the fire alarm system
- Switch off all electrical equipment
- Use fire extinguiser if safe to do so
- Evacuate via the fire exit points
- Gather at the fire assembly point
- Dont open doors that are hot to touch
- Switch off equipment
- Dont re-enter to collect personal items
- Dont use windows as an escape route
- Dont hide internally from the fire
Common Causes of Workplace Fires
In order to lower the risk of fire, it is imperative for all staff to know the potential causes and the ways to minimize the risk. By having a greater level of knowledge, you will also be removing or reducing potential harm to staff, visitors in addition to saving your businesses from any unexpected losses due to fire. In order to assist you in identifying some common risks, we have created some key areas below that you can introduce into your evacuation plans.
Some Common Key Areas of Workplace Fires:
Many companies that have over a handful of staff often have a designated kitchen for staff to use whilst at work. Staff kitchens can range dramatically in size depending on the amount of staff in the premises. Staff kistchs in the workplace can range from just having a coffee maker to larger kitchens where microwaves, gas hobs, and toasters can be found.
All workplace electrical appliances should be tested and checked on a regular basis which will dramatically reduce the risk of fire in the workplace. In addition to professional testing, kitchens should be properly fitted out with fire safety equipment such as fire blankets and safety signs that are clearly visible.
Faulty Electrical Equipment.
One of the most common causes of fires in both the workplace and at home are those related to faulty electrical equipment.
Modern day we are surrounded by electrical appliances and equipment which increases the risk of fire. Having all electrical items tested and passed by a professional will ensure that all your equipment remains safe to use thus lowering the risk of fire. Not only that, but having your equipment tested by an expert will positively affect the lifespan of the items.
Larger premises and warehouses that contain large amounts of flammable materials often fall victim of unfortunate arson attacks. You should ensure that flammable liquids ect are kept well away from the exterior perimeter of the premises will be less attractive to the arsonist.
Work premises should have designated areas which are kept far from any areas where explosive or potentially flammable materials can be found. These might not only be materials relating to work such as cleaning products but also surroundings of the area such as trees, leaves and other dry debris.
Misuse of Equipment.
Statistics show that the misuse of equipment results in hundreds of fires in the UK each year. Staff should be properly trained in the correct use of any equipment that they might need to handle in the workplace.
They must also be made aware of the dangers of purposely misusing equipment and the potential consequences of doing so. Any area around the workplace again should be fitted with the necessary fire safety equipment.