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National Fire Prevention Week 2018 is October 7-13. Each October, the week that includes October 9 becomes a focal point for fire safety and prevention practices at the workplace, in the home, and around our communities.
If you haven’t included National Fire Safety Prevention Week on your EHS department’s agenda, there’s still time—and plenty of reason—to emphasize it in the workplace.
The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) chooses a new theme each year to help employees and citizens connect fire safety and prevention with their everyday lives. This year’s theme, Look Listen, Learn, Be Aware—Fire Can Happen Anywhere, is an excellent reminder that no one is immune from the dangers of fire.
It also identifies three easy calls to action that everyone can put into practice:
While the NFPA is largely focused on home fire safety, their valuable information and annual themes can easily be adapted for the workplace. EHS leaders are no strangers to fire safety, and it’s important you share this knowledge with all employees.
The NFPA cited that the home fire death rate in 2016 was 10% higher than that in 1980. If that sounds surprising to you, it should. There have been significant advancements in fire safety and prevention, including an increased use in smoke alarms and sprinkler systems.
However, this increase in fire-related home deaths sounds a dire warning: technology alone isn’t enough to prevent fire safety issues.
This is a major talking point for companies, especially those that have sophisticated fire safety equipment and procedures in place. Technology should never be a replacement for sound judgment and evacuation, and it’s important to remind workers where their priorities should lie.
When you’re integrating National Fire Prevention Week into your training and EHS-related activities, two of the things you can focus on is how to prevent fires and what to do when prevention fails.
Start by identifying potential fire hazards in your organization. Do things like sawdust or chemicals in the workplace pose a threat? Do you have known electrical issues? Are flammable materials properly stored at all times?
It’s important to expose any potential fire-related factors so that employees understand why you’ve established certain procedures. Once they realize the risk of not following protocol, such as not properly storing items or not maintaining a clean workspace, they are better able to make good choices at work.
But even the best preventative efforts can still fail, and employees need to be prepared to handle the consequences. Holding fire drills, talking about escape routes, explaining how to communicate during the fire, and knowing where designated meeting spots are can all be life-saving.
Go through the various steps of fire response as a team. Look for flaws during the process to identify training opportunities. Find ways to improve evacuation so that everyone has the best chance of avoiding the threats caused by fire. You might even call in your local fire department for hands-on demonstrations or professional talks.
Teaching fire safety in the workplace can also bring it top of mind when employees are off the clock. Four out of five fires in the U.S. occur in the home.
Your employees are your most valuable asset, and keeping them safe at all times should be a top priority. What they learn at work doesn’t disappear when they leave for the day. In case they do become involved in a fire, at home or otherwise, they can put what they learn at work into action.
National Fire Prevention Week 2018 is here, but it’s not too late to include it on your events calendar. Whether it’s talking about it during safety meetings or planning a full-scale week of activities, fire safety and prevention is too important to skip.
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