Fire hazards are among many threats that can cause business discontinuity, serious damage to property, and sometimes even death. Henceforth, organizations must prepare for the unexpected in order to protect their business, and more importantly, their people.
- What are the common causes of fire in the workplace?
- What are the safety measures to protect the workplace from fire hazards?
Common causes of workplace fire
Faulty electrical equipment
Electrical defects are one of the most common causes for workplace fires. Faulty wiring, overloaded sockets, damaged plugs, and old and malfunctioning equipment can ignite sparks starting a fire on inflammable materials.
Combustible liquid and substance
Industrial factories often have flammable liquids and substances on site. Although these are necessities to business operations, they can impose huge threats to the property and people if they are not handled properly.
The heat generated from machines and equipment can start a fire. Especially when there are combustible materials nearby.
Fire can break out if the lit cigarette is not properly extinguished and disposed.
Measures to prevent fire hazards in the workplace
Prevention is better than cure. While some circumstances are out of organization’s control (such as wildfires, arsons, …), most fire problems can be avoided.
The followings are the measures that can be done to prevent dangers caused by fire.
Keep equipment accessible
Make sure your fire protection and firefighting equipment, electrical control panels, emergency exits are easily accessible.
Tidy and dispose waste properly
Employees need to keep the workplace free from clutter whenever possible. Furthermore, they need to ensure that everything is stored properly. This is because debris could fuel a fire and block ways to the exits and safety equipment.
Discard any hazardous waste in covered metal containers. Specialized staff should empty these containers at appropriate places regularly.
Maintain equipment and facilities regularly
Schedule and perform regular maintenance on firefighting equipment. By doing this, business can ensure that they are always up to standard and ready when needed.
Overheated and malfunctioning machinery can also cause fire problems. Henceforth, it is important to maintain and lubricate your facilities regularly. In addition, report to your supervisors / managers if something does not look right.
Store and use chemicals safely
Organizations need to make sure to store chemicals, flammable materials, or other hazardous substances in safe places. Specifically, the appropriate storage environment should be dry, secure, and properly ventilated. Additionally, organizations should keep Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) near the storage. In case of a fire broke out, safety measures can be taken immediately.
Secure your property
One of the leading reasons of building and structure fires is arson. This is why it is important to invest in property security. The security staff should lock the property carefully. Not only that, the people working (or living) there should know how to report suspicious people or behaviors.
Designate areas for smoking
Accidental fire accidents can occur from lit cigarettes. To prevent this from happening, there should be designated areas for smoking which is far away (or at a safe distance) from the main building. Moreover, companies need to make sure to provide ashtrays or other safe options for the people to extinguish or discard cigarettes after smoking.
Display emergency contacts and signages
Emergency contact numbers (supervisors, local Fire Departments, …) and signage must be displayed at somewhere that can be seen easily and in more than one language if necessary.
Create and run evacuation plan
Create evacuation plans and run them periodically. This will help your people (or building occupants) know how to react to a fire and how to use a fire extinguisher, along with the other fire protection devices. By doing this, you can stop the fire from spreading and even save lives.
Follow OSHA guidelines
OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) set safety standards and regulations to help businesses prevent workplace fires. By following these guidelines, your organizations will be able to remain up to standard and always secure.
All in all, nothing is more important than the human life. In order to protect your people (and your property) against unwanted and unexpected fire dangers, businesses should follow these suggested precautionary measures.