Every workplace has its own specific fire risks, and in turn should therefore have in place its own preventative measures and carefully honed procedures in order to combat these unique threats. But whether you work in a factory or on a farm, in a garage or a greengrocer’s, there are still some basic tips which everyone should follow to maintain fire safety in the workplace.
1. Take out the trash
A clean and tidy workplace helps combat a range of different threats, and if your workplace handles a lot of flammable material this could be the difference between a minor threat and a catastrophic blaze. Whether you’re dealing with oily rags or stacks of paper filing, make sure everything is stored safely and away from naked flames.
2. Maintain electrical safety
A huge number of fires in workplace premises can be traced back to faulty wiring and electrical equipment. If your team contains someone qualified to repair electrical equipment, ensure they keep on top of any known issues. If not, book in regular inspections and PAT testing to avoid the risk of electrical fire. You should also maintain the safe operation of your site’s equipment, and prevent overheating or sparking wherever possible.
3. Keep electrical control panels accessible
If there is an emergency and you need to shut down a particular machine, the last thing you want to be doing is shifting boxes or equipment out of the way before you can even get to the control panel. Keep a clear line of access and sight to any control panels within your premises, and preferably have them visibly marked to enable swift identification at a moment’s notice.
4. Store chemicals safely
Many workplaces might not feel this particular point applies to them, but flammable chemicals can be found in most workplaces in the form of printing supplies and the products stocked in your cleaner’s cupboard. Follow all documented advice which comes on both the label and any material safety data sheets you may have for these items.
5. Prevent ignition in explosive areas
Workplace environments containing high levels of flammable liquid vapour or fine particles are highly susceptible to ignition, and should be treated as such even when the flammable material is bottled, as with oxygen in nursing homes of hospitals. Avoid the use of sparking tools in such environments, control the emission of static electricity if possible, and always designate it a no-smoking area.
6. Maintain fire safety training
A team of educated and observant employees is your biggest ally in achieving fire safety for the workplace. Knowing the best course of action in an emergency can help prevent major disasters and unnecessary loss of life and infrastructure, so it is imperative that all employees, both new and old; are retrained in your workplace’s fire safety procedures as often as possible.
7. Hold regular drills
One of the most important parts of fire safety training concerns exit procedures in the event of fire. Make fire drills a regular part of your workplace schedule, and ensure that your employees treat each one with the respect it deserves. You may also wish to appoint a dedicated fire marshal to oversee the correct observance of every fire drill, and ensure that any employees who disregard its importance are re-educated in fire safety to prevent further lapses.
8. Keep fire safety equipment clear
Anything which may be needed in the event of a fire should not be obstructed or covered in any way at any time. This includes fire extinguishers shoved behind desks, fire escapes blocked by machinery, and sprinkler systems obstructed by decorations or other such material.
9. Fit relevant equipment
Smoke alarms should be fitted throughout your building and tested at regular intervals, with their batteries replaced annually. You should also make sure that you have the right fire-fighting equipment relevant to the threats present in every room. Different types of fire require vastly different approaches in order to tackle them effectively, so as part of your fire safety training ensure that your staff not only have access to the right kind of extinguisher, but that they also know how to use them.
10. Ensure you have a BAFE Approved Fire Risk Assessment
At Total Fire Services we use a 160-question audit process, combined with many years of fire safety experience. This ensures that our clients’ premises are adequately assessed for fire risks to life, property and business continuity. A full and detailed consultation is available following the fire risk assessments to discuss any significant findings and required actions to achieve a satisfactory standard of fire safety within your organisation.