Fires in the workplace are sometimes almost ignored as they are infrequent and rarely seen. However, fire is a potential hazard that can occur in all workplaces. It can cause injury to employees, property damage and even cause loss of life. We need to ensure that the place we spend so much time in is safe from potential fires.
Does your workplace have a fire plan in place? Do you know the evacuation route out of the building? These are important questions you should know the answer to and if the answer is no, then you are in need of a safety plan for your workplace.
Preparation is Key
Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, the employer is obligated to maintain a safe working environment. Ensure your workplace safety is up to standards so that fires are avoided and a plan is present in the unlikely event of a fire.
All workplaces should have the right type of fire extinguishers to catch an early fire. If the fire extinguishers are used properly and effectively, it can save property and lives. Thus, you should have your fire extinguishers checked every 6 months to ensure it is still in working order. Consequently, you should train your workers on how to use the fire extinguishers.
Here we are providing you additional tips for your workplace to avoid potential fires:
- Declutter your work area. Keep your work area free of waste paper, trash and any other items that may easily catch fire.
- Check your electrical cords regularly. Replace any damaged cords and remove any cords that are in the way of your work or are likely to be stepped and tripped on. Make sure your electrical equipment is regularly tested and tagged.
- Turn off electrical appliances at the end of each day. This reduces the chances of any appliances overheating when no employees are present and it will save on the electrical bill.
- Keep heating appliances away from paper storage. Paper can quickly catch fire when it comes in contact with high heat. Avoid flammable objects near appliances such as computers, coffee machines and microwaves.
- Store hazardous items in a designated area. If you do have any hazardous items in the office, ensure they are stored away in a particular area away from flammable objects. Additionally, make sure your employees know how to handle hazardous materials safely.
- Service your equipment regularly. Defective components can create a spark and cause fires. Never attempt electrical repairs unless you are qualified and authorised.
- Always ensure free access to all electrical control panels. Anything blocking the panels can hinder the emergency shutdown of power.
- Teach employees to report any potential hazards. Ensure employees are watching out for any potential hazards and catch the problem before it becomes larger.
- Proper use and storage of chemicals. All read the label and take all necessarily precautions.
- Emergency contact and plans. Emergency numbers should be placed near the phones and evacuation plans should be easily accessible by all staff members.
- Good Housekeeping. Ensure sprinklers, fire extinguishers and electrical equipment are in working order and exits and aisles should be kept clear.
- Supporting structures of the warehouse and its shelving should have a good fire resistant rating.
- Warning and exit signs should be clearly visible and fire equipment is easily accessible.
- Have regular fire safety inspections to ensure your safety procedures and equipment are up to date.
When in an event of an uncontrollable fire:
- Call 000 immediately.
- Follow the evacuation plan.
- Close doors when existing to help limit the spread of the fire and smoke.
- Drop low, there will be more oxygen and less smoke.
- If you do catch on fire, stop, drop and roll.
For more details on what to do in an event of a fire, visit here.