Everyone has the right to work in a safe environment. While some workplaces are riskier than others, we all have to ensure that risks are minimized where possible. One universal threat to safety, whether your workplace is Industrial or office-based, is fire.
Today we will discuss how to protect your employees from a workplace fire and cover some key areas to ensure your workplace is as safe as possible.
Part of protecting your employees against fire is constant vigilance. When you consider that in the office environment alone, US fire departments respond to over 3000 fires per year, workplace-related fires are not isolated occurrences.
How can you protect against workplace fires?
It is easily dealt with by having an awareness of the likely risks and hazards. Here are some areas that it really pays to keep an eye on:
Offices often contain a large number of electrical appliances. When was the last time that you had them checked? Frayed or broken wires are a prime source of ignition.
Ever looked under a desk and seen a ‘daisy chain’ of plugs and extension leads? These can often lead to a dangerous situation as power strips generate a significant amount of heat, especially when overloaded.
Ease of Access
If a fire was to break out, how readily could someone reach a fire exit or a fire extinguisher? While it might seem trivial, a trip or a fall in front of a fire exit could lead to serious injury if several people tried to exit the building in a hurry.
Organizations such as OSHA publish guidance on emergency exits. Some of the things stated in their rules are as follows:
Fire exits must:
- Be clearly marked.
- Be unlocked and easily accessible from the inside.
- Must lead directly outside.
- Be large enough to allow easy egress.
Dangerous Heat Sources?
There are numerous hidden heat sources in the workplace. Even computer towers can generate a surprising amount of heat!
Other things to watch out for are things like fan heaters and air convection ducts. These must remain unblocked and be kept away from flammable materials such as paper or chemical products.
Food Preparation Areas
A clean kitchen is a safe kitchen. Often, in the workplace, cleaning is often considered ‘somebody else’s job’. However, accumulations of grease, fat, and oils can present a dangerous risk.
The fairest solution is to make a rule that makes everybody responsible for the upkeep of food preparation areas. Making a company policy of ‘leave as you find’ will ensure that fire risks are kept to a minimum.
Consider Passive Fire Protection
Passive fire protection protects all employees from fire, even when there isn’t one! A passive fire protection system greatly reduces the risk of a fire outbreak and ensures that successful outcomes are much more likely in the event of a fire.
Here are some great examples of passive fire protection:
- Fire doors
- Smoke sealing
- Fire damping air conditioning ducts
- Fire planning
- Staff training
If you have never heard of passive fire protection before, perhaps now is a good time to book a consultation with an expert who can show you all of the ways to reduce your risk?
Is Your Fire Detection System Sufficient?
Often in large workplaces, it can be hard to keep track of all areas simultaneously.
If people are made aware of a dangerous situation early, and everyone is aware, the risk of a fire is greatly reduced.
A fire detection system can be more than a simple bell or siren. By choosing an effective fire alarm, you can gain the ability to monitor an area remotely and wirelessly. As an additional advantage, many modern fire detection systems allow you to pinpoint the location of a fire. This saves time in an evacuation. It also allows the fire service to suppress the fire more quickly, reducing the chance of extensive damage.
Fire suppression systems are a great solution to protecting employees from fire. Often with a modern and well-maintained system, fires can be extinguished before you even know that they have occurred.
On a more localized level, fire extinguishers, placed strategically, can allow a building’s occupants to beat a path to safety. They also allow people to respond quickly to smaller fires, reducing the risk of a small blaze becoming an inferno.
There is one important point that also needs to be considered… The type of fire extinguisher, depending on where it is going to be used.
Here is a quick rundown of the types of fire extinguishers and where they are best used:
- Type A: Wood paper and fabrics
- Type B: Flammable liquids and gases
- Type C: Electrical fires
- Type D: Metals
- Type K: Cooking oils, grease fires, and fats
Is Your Storage Safe?
Often there are hidden dangers in the workplace. Large stores of dangerous or flammable chemicals can escalate a minor fire to something much more dangerous.
Want an example of something that is really flammable and is practically guaranteed to exist in most workplaces (especially offices)?
They feature in phones, laptop computers, cleaning appliances, and a whole host of other areas. They are highly dangerous when heated (which happens as they charge). Storing several together can be problematic.
In other industrial settings, storing large amounts of chemicals together can be a problem. Are you aware of the rules? If not, it may be time to think about them.
Have a Plan for a Workplace Fire
A fire escape plan needs to be worked out prior to, not during, a fire. If you haven’t considered a fire response plan before, you’ll be able to find excellent guidance right here.
By protecting your employees from a fire in the workplace, you can minimize the risks. The benefits are obvious. Focusing on the risks, how to deal with them, and how to escape when all else fails is a crucial step that every employer should be addressing. You can gain valuable knowledge on all of the solutions above by talking to a professional fire protection company. Fraker Fire can offer excellent guidance on escape plans, fire alarms, and suppression systems. Why not contact them today?