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Whether you work in the world’s most mundane office or in a chemical processing plant, fire safety is vital for one simple reason: sometimes, despite all our best precautions, Murphy’s Law wins out.
That said, precautions can go a long way in preventing fires and mitigating the effects of a fire once it breaks out. If you’re looking to improve your fire safety program, here are a few essential workplace fire safety tips for your team to keep in mind.
Good housekeeping is the heart of successful fire prevention.
If your company hasn’t done spring cleaning yet this year (or in the last ten years) now is the time to start. Clutter is a huge fire hazard for one simple reason: it provides fuel.
Worse, if you’re storing chemicals or combustible materials, clutter can actually exacerbate the problem if that clutter happens to be explosive.
In addition to potentially trapping employees in a fire, it also reduces your ability to respond in an emergency because you can’t move freely. If you need to get out in a hurry, the last thing you should have to worry about is navigating the maze of clutter around your desk to get to safety.
Do yourself a favor: lose the clutter. Pay extra attention to potential fire hazards, such as damaged electrical outlets, cords, and cables, as well as combustible objects in unsecured locations (including trash and recycling) and any obstacles blocking your fire exits.
One area you may not have thought about is your industrial shelving or racking. Are there sprinklers in the ceiling above your industrial racks? If so, there are two really important things to remember:
That said, the fact of knowing you have fire exits and keeping them clear is not sufficient to keep everyone safe. You should have a fire strategy in place and run drills.
Think of it this way. When a fire breaks out, everyone is panicked. They’re not going to think through rational steps when they’re worried about their safety. The problem, of course, is that they may put others at risk.
Don’t gamble with your employees – they’re too valuable for that. Make sure that everyone knows what their role would be in a fire. They should know how to proceed to fire exits and how to do so safely. This is especially true for new employees and guests just visiting your company for a short time.
If anyone in the office has special needs, you should have a plan in place to help them get out of the building quickly. Everyone in the office should also have easy access to emergency information, such as who to call if a fire breaks out and what managers will take charge in the event of an emergency.
If everyone knows their role, they’re more likely to put it into action in a real emergency.
It should sound glaringly obvious, but your fire safety equipment should be readily available and in good working order at all times. You never want to experience a situation where a small fire becomes a big fire because you can’t access your fire safety equipment or because it’s not in good working order.
Let’s talk about fire extinguishers. In most cases, you’re required to have them. How many you need and where you need them depend on the classes of fires you could reasonably anticipate happening in your workplace and on the size of your workplace.
Keep in mind that there are many different types of fire extinguishers for different types of fires.
A water extinguisher, for example, should only be used on (ordinary combustibles such as wood or paper). Using them on Class B fires (flammable liquids) could spread the flammable liquid, while using them on Class C fires (electrical fires) creates a significant shock hazard for the user. Most offices and other places of employment that don’t require specialized types of firefighting equipment use multi-use fire extinguishers that can be use on Class A, B and C fires. ABC extinguishers are lightweight, economical and can be used in most settings.
When it comes to using a fire extinguisher, if you’re going to require your employees to use them, you’ll have to train your employees to use them. Use this guide to provide the basics of the PASS method.
Fire extinguishers are such a recognizable item and they seem so easy to use, however, without the right training and a basic understanding of how they work they could cause more harm than good.
The last thing you want to have happen is for an employee to grab a water extinguisher and try to put out a grease fire!
Because fire extinguishers aren’t a really complex tool, they shouldn’t require complex training. In fact, the simpler the training, the more the employees will retain and when it comes to fire extinguishers, that’s really what you want.
If you’re looking for something simple but eye catching that provides just the basics on fire extinguishers, we can help! Download our customizable Fire Extinguisher Training Presentation (and the short corresponding quiz) today!