All workplaces are different and have their own unique challenges based on the staff, the building itself and what the business actually does. However, whether you work in an office, a factory, a retail store, or even on a farm, there are several fire safety tips that should always be followed and respected by employees and employers alike.
As a bare minimum, your workplace should have several fire and smoke alarms or a connected fire alarm system in place in case the worst should happen. Indeed, it is the law that any commercial property has a fire detection system in place.
Many modern fire alarms are wirelessly connected and can be operated remotely by mobile devices, offering a variety of options for those looking to go above and beyond when it comes to the safety of their employees.
Empty the bins
What is or is not in your bins could prove the vital difference between a minor incident and a catastrophe. Workplace bins are typically full of potentially flammable material that could ignite if exposed to a naked flame. So, make sure your bins are regularly emptied – it not only keeps the place looking tidy but it might just save a life in the long run.
Electrical fires account for 54.4% of all fires in England, with countless fires caused by faulty wiring or malfunctioning electrical equipment. This might be particularly relevant in busy offices.
In all offices, this means there should be somebody on staff who is qualified to repair electrical equipment and that regular electrical inspections and PAT tests should be undertaken whenever possible.
Another common cause of workplace fires is the spillage of flammable chemicals. While in factories, warehouses, and laboratories this might be more obvious, even in offices and retail stores there will be printing and cleaning supplies that could lead to a devastating fire if spilt. So, all flammable materials should be stored safely and labelled as such.
Fire safety training
When it comes to not only preventing fires but surviving them, arguably the most powerful tool in your arsenal is your employees themselves.
Ensure they are properly trained in best practice and fire safety procedures when it comes to fire safety by holding regular training sessions. This also means holding regular fire drills, which can seem like a bit of an inconvenience but can make that crucial difference in the case of an actual fire, as your team will be well-rehearsed. You might also want to consider appointing a fire marshal.
Easy to access equipment
Any equipment that might need to be used in case of a fire should be easily accessible so make sure all extinguishers are located in a clear open space and that fire escapes are unobstructed by furniture and machinery.
It’s also worth mentioning that there are different types of fire extinguisher suitable for different situations (foam, water, CO2 etc) so your workplace should be taken into consideration when choosing equipment too.
For example, if you work in a kitchen, use a wet chemical extinguisher, in a typical office, meanwhile, a foam extinguisher would be more suitable.
Any building built since 2007 and measuring taller than 30 metres needs to have a sprinkler system installed by law. However, even if your building is much older, it might be something to consider. Of course, if you use a lot of electrical equipment in your office, water can exacerbate the problem, but modern systems are designed only to activate in case of an actual fire.
Many fires can be avoided (or at least mitigated) by following the laws of common sense, of course. But fire is a truly frightening thing that can cause people to lose their senses and react accordingly.
That’s why, when you’re dealing with a workplace involving multiple individuals, proper fire safety is so important. It’s not rocket science, but it should certainly be one of the most vital tenants of any successful and safe business.