Fire Safety in the Workplace

According to OSHA, workplace fires and explosions kill 200 and injure more than 5,000 workers each year. In addition, they cost businesses more than $2.3 billion in property damage. These alarming statistics are a stark reminder that workplace fires must be prevented. But how do you do that?

Prevention is important

Preventing fires is everyone’s job. Every individual needs to be alert to anything that could cause a fire and take responsibility to report any problem areas so they can be corrected. Here are some tips:

  • Practice good workplace housekeeping. Clutter contributes to fires by providing fuel and preventing access to exits and emergency equipment.
  • Maintain machinery to prevent overheating and friction sparks.
  • Report electrical hazards. Many fires start with faulty wiring or electrical equipment.
  • Maintain clear access to all electrical control panels.
  • Use chemicals safely. Read the label and the Material Safety Data Sheet to determine flammability and other fire hazards.
  • Make sure flammable liquids are stored in appropriate containers, cabinets or rooms in accordance with NFPA 30 standards. Provide adequate ventilation when using and storing these substances.
  • Use precautions to prevent ignition in potentially explosive environments containing flammable liquid vapors or combustible dust particles. Use non-sparking tools and control static electricity.
  • Help maintain building security to prevent arson fires. Lock up as instructed, report suspicious people and don’t leave combustible rubbish where it can be set on fire outside the building.
  • Smoke in designated areas and extinguish smoking materials safely. Never smoke in storerooms or chemical storage areas.
  • Never block sprinklers, firefighting equipment or emergency exits.
  • Learn how to properly use a fire extinguisher and be sure employees know how to use one as well.

What to Do in Case of Fire

It’s also important that you have a clear idea what to do in case a fire does occur.

  • Sound an alarm so building occupants can escape.
  • If an alarm sounds or a fire is suspected, call 911 immediately. Never wait to investigate the situation before calling 911.
  • Conduct regular fire drills to practice procedures and help staff understand their role in emergency plans.
  • Proceed to a designated assembly area outside the building.
  • If you are trained to do so, attempt to extinguish small fires with a portable extinguisher. Choose the right extinguisher for the type of fire and keep a clear escape route.
  • As you or other designated individuals exit, shut down machinery according to company emergency plans.
  • Close internal and external doors when exiting, if possible. By doing so, you limit the spread of smoke and fire throughout the building.
  • Ensure everyone takes fire drills seriously. Drills are designed to save lives and property in the event of a real emergency.

Don’t let a fire threaten you, your staff and your business. Work to prevent fires and know what to do if one occurs.

For more information, contact your United Heartland Loss Control representative today.