10 Tips to prevent a fire in the workplace

It’s Fire Safety Week (8-14th October) and while the focus is mainly on preventing residential fires, it is also a good time to consider workplace fire safety and prevention. The UK’s fire and rescue service attended 161,000 fires in 2016-17.  On average, 16,000 of those were recorded as being in non-residential buildings - the majority of which were workplaces. So, here are some tips to ensure the worst doesn’t happen in your workplace.

1. Get Organised

Organisation is key in any office environment. Although, we are all guilty of having paper, work and stationery lying around that could easily be filed or put away in a drawer. Unfortunately, clutter contributes to fires by providing fuel, and it could also prevent access to exit and emergency equipment. Therefore, you might want to re-think your organisation for safety’s sake!

2. Designated Smoking Areas

Most office buildings will have designated smoking areas, so it is key to stick to those areas when lighting up a cigarette. Always extinguish smoking materials safely, and never smoke in storerooms or chemical storage areas.

3. Fire Extinguishers

Whether you have a small office or multiple floors for your business, having the correct and appropriate fire extinguishers is vital for any working area. You should learn how to properly use a fire extinguisher and familiarise yourself with what extinguishers can be used on specific substances. For example, foam fire extinguishers should be used on wood, paper and textiles whilst avoiding live electrical equipment. Know your extinguishers, and you’ll guarantee confidence if ever put in the position to use one.

4. Electrical Hazards

Technology is a big part of the world these days with most people having multiple gadgets. This means there will be a lot of electrical equipment in offices on a daily basis, along with wires and accessories lying around. Not only does this put the equipment at risk for being damaged, but it also creates electrical hazards for other workers in the office as people can easily trip over the wires. This can cause faulty wiring and malfunction electrical equipment, leading to possible fires. A simple solution is to tape down wiring, or place it to the side of your desk where no one can trip on them.

5. Access to Control Panels

It is key for offices to give their colleagues free access to electrical control panels so it can be maintained easily, especially in an emergency situation where it needs to be shut off. For example, only giving access to a handful of colleagues could be fatal in the cause of a fire, as these colleagues could be out of the office or unable to complete the task of shutting the system off. You should always be prepared.

6. Maintenance

Regular maintenance for all machinery in your office will help prevent any overheating and friction sparks. Getting regular PAT tests done is advisable, as they are professionals who come to your premises to test anything with a main supply to your electrical system, such as laptops, extension leads, computers and even kettles.

7. Sprinkler Systems & Smoke Detectors

As highlighted previously, be sure to not stack materials such as paper and carboard boxes below sprinklers or in front of any doors, emergency exits or equipment. Testing of sprinkler systems and smoke detectors should be done at least twice a year to ensure they are fully operative.

8. Waste Control & Storage

Recycling is something heavily advised for offices, although it is important to not let the recycling bins overflow or become a hazard. Simply control the accumulations of flammable and combustible waste materials and residues so that they do not contribute to a fire emergency. Perhaps empty your bins and recycling sections on a weekly basis to ensure nothing is left open to the possibility of fuelling a fire.

9. Exits

Emergency exit diagrams should be placed around the office in clear sight for everyone to see and memorise. Emergency exits should also be clearly visible with signage directing people in the correct directions. Remember to never lock an emergency exit if people are still in the building, and always keep these exits clear from storage.

10. Contact Info

Employees should have a list of emergency contact phone numbers in case of an emergency. Remember that people will often panic in an intense situation; therefore, basics such as the company address, phone number and floor plan should be noted down by every employee.

By Laura at 9 Oct 2017, 14:19 PM