How to Prevent Fires in the Workplace

July 12, 2022 6:32 am

Workplace fires are more common than people think. In 2020, the National Fire Protection Association reported 111,000 nonresidential fires, which accounted for 8% of structure fires that year. Luckily, if you’re looking to improve fire safety in the workplace, there are many measures you can take to prevent these emergencies from occurring.

Through this workplace fire safety checklist, we’ll discuss several fire safety tips you can enforce in your commercial establishment to keep your customers and employees safe while preventing financial losses.

1. Reduce Workplace Fire Hazards

The first step to preventing fires in the workplace is knowing how these incidents occur and taking steps to minimize them. When you’re aware of the common causes of nonresidential fires, you’re better equipped to defend against them.

Some of the most common workplace fire hazards to look out for include:

  • Cooking appliances: Cooking accidents are the number one cause of fires in the workplace. You can reduce these hazards by regularly cleaning kitchen appliances, replacing frayed power cords and installing fire protection devices like fire extinguishers and sprinklers. You should also ensure that employees never leave food unattended when cooking.
  • Electrical equipment: Be sure to report and repair any electrical hazards you encounter, such as loose wiring, faulty connections or overloaded plugs, to prevent sparks and overheating. It’s also wise to equip your electrical equipment with circuit breakers to cut off current flow in the event of overloads.
  • Power strips: Plugging in too many appliances and electronics into one power strip can cause the circuit to overload, potentially resulting in fires. Make sure to limit the number of items plugged into these outlets.
  • Flammable materials: It’s important to store flammable materials such as paper, chemicals and cardboard away from ignition sources like heaters, radiators, power tools and electrical equipment to prevent fires.
  • Arson: Unfortunately, intentional fires by disgruntled employees are more prevalent than you realize. You can deter this behavior by implementing security measures like closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras and access controls.

2. Keep an Eye on Fire-Prone Areas

Regardless of how many fire prevention measures you’ve taken, accidents can still happen. That’s why your employees and management team should familiarize themselves with your building’s most fire-prone areas and keep an eye on these environments. When everyone is looking out for these risks, you can better reduce the likelihood of fires and stop any blazes that occur more quickly.

Nonresidential areas at the highest risk of fires include:

  • Break rooms.
  • Kitchens.
  • Server rooms.
  • Storage areas.
  • Laboratories.
  • Smoking areas.
  • Office spaces.

3. Comply With Fire Laws and Maintenance Requirements

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established dozens of general industry regulations regarding fire safety that companies are required to follow. These laws are designed to prevent workplace fires by improving safety measures.

While OSHA’s fire safety laws range from exit routes to ventilation to material handling and storage, some of the most crucial requirements include equipment maintenance and fire suppression systems. When you implement fire prevention solutions in your workplace and maintain your systems regularly, you can minimize the risk and effects of fires.

Be sure to comply with the following rules:

  • Install sprinkler systems: Automatic sprinkler systems are dependable fire suppression solutions that detect fires, sound warning alarms and extinguish flames by expelling water into the area.
  • Maintain wiring regularly: You should perform routine maintenance on your electrical wiring to prevent faults and frays that can cause fires.
  • Install smoke alarms and fire detectors: Fire alarms and smoke detectors are essential for warning employees of potential fires as soon as they occur.
  • Provide access to fire extinguishers: Your workplace must contain approved fire extinguishers, which should be regularly tested and inspected to ensure reliable working conditions.

4. Create a Fire Safety Plan in Case of Emergency

In addition to preventing workplace fires, you should also know how to respond to them. You can ensure that your entire staff is prepared in the event of a fire by implementing an emergency fire safety plan.

First, appoint a dedicated manager, employee or team as your workplace safety officer. This individual or group should oversee all fire safety measures, such as implementing emergency procedures, assessing fire hazards, documenting risk areas and executing regular fire drills.

Next, you’ll need to create an evacuation plan for your staff to adhere to in case of a fire. This written plan should include a safe and efficient route for exiting the building. It’s crucial that all emergency exits are clearly marked and unobstructed by obstacles. Your evacuation plan should also include procedures for accounting for all employees amid an emergency, as well as special measures for helping individuals with physical impairments out of the building.

Be sure to educate your employees on your safety roles and evacuation plan to ensure that everyone is well-informed and on the same page.

5. Store Flammable Liquids and Fire-Prone Materials Properly

If your job site contains any chemicals, flammable substances or other hazardous materials, it’s vital that you store these items appropriately to prevent fire risks. Be sure to keep combustible materials in a dry, secure space with adequate ventilation, such as a closet, cabinet or dedicated room. When storing chemicals, certain substances should not be placed beside one another, as they may combust.

It’s a good idea to keep fire protection equipment near your flammable storage containers to improve response times if fires do occur.

6. Train Employees on Fire Safety Standards

Human errors like improper equipment use, unattended cooking or faulty machinery operation are among the top causes of workplace fires. While accidents happen, you can minimize these risks by enrolling your employees in comprehensive fire safety training.

It’s a good practice to provide regular, up-to-date safety training unique to your workplace and its hazards. Your employee education should include familiarizing staff with OSHA guidelines and practicing your emergency evaluation plan. Other areas to discuss during fire safety training include:

  • Identifying all major fire hazards.
  • Handling hazardous materials.
  • Using fire protection equipment properly.
  • Identifying potential ignition sources.
  • Controlling flammable waste materials.
  • Following evaluation protocols.
  • Establishing fire safety wardens.
  • Executing fire prevention tactics.
  • Responding to fires.

Lexington Alarm Can Help With Fire Safety in the Workplace

contact Lexington Alarm for monitoring services

Once you’ve followed our workplace fire safety tips, you can further improve fire safety with fire monitoring systems from Lexington Alarm Systems. Our state-of-the-art solutions detect fires, set off alarms and alert our help center in under eight seconds to ensure fast response times and maximum safety. We’re dedicated to helping our customers protect their homes and businesses from harm by providing white-glove services they can trust.

Contact us to learn more about our systems today!

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