Regardless of the size or type of business, the potential for a fire is always present and ensuring the correct workplace fire prevention that is not only required by law, but can save the lives of work colleagues, staff, public and keep them safe in the event of a fire or explosion. You should always focus your effort on preventive actions, taking the necessary steps before a fire accident happens. Our latest article looks at how businesses can prevent fire hazards and ensure a safer working environment for all. According to the NPFA, there are five major causes of fire accidents:-
- Combustible dust
- Hot work
- Flammable liquid and gases
- Equipment and machinery
- Electrical hazards
But, this does not mean that you can ignore other causes even if they are small. You have to take care of every potential fire risk that may turn into a fire accident. Preventive measures should include:-
Fire safety training
Fire safety training should cover everything from preventing fires and following the correct procedure, to how to stay safe and escape in the event of a fire. It is beneficial to give people a basic knowledge of operating fire extinguishers and other ways of preventing a fire from spreading further. Fire safety training is something that should be continuous in order to keep everyone up to date and safe, with existing staff being given regular refresher training , and of course, providing information, instruction and training to new staff.
Maintain equipment and machinery
Faulty electrical equipment is one of the leading causes of fire in the workplace, so it’s important for businesses to keep their equipment well maintained to reduce the risk of them developing a dangerous fault.
- Ensure all work equipment protects against catching fire or overheating
- Ensure proper housekeeping, such as preventing ventilation points on machinery becoming clogged with dust or other materials – causing overheating
- Have electrical equipment serviced regularly by a competent person to prevent sparks and fires
- Properly clean and maintain heat producing equipment such as burners, heat exchangers, boilers, ovens, stoves, and fryers. Require storage of flammables away from this equipment.
- Use a planned maintenance programme to properly maintain plant and equipment. Review your programme if you already have one.
Maintenance and testing
Fire safety measures and equipment in the workplace must be kept in effective working order. This includes all fixtures and fittings such as fire doors, staircases, corridors, fire detection and alarm systems, fire-fighting equipment, notices and emergency lighting. Regular checks, periodic servicing and maintenance must be carried out, whatever the size of the workplace. Any defects should be put right as quickly as possible.
An employer or nominated employee can carry out checks and routine maintenance work. However, it is important to ensure the reliability and safe operation of fire-fighting equipment and installed systems such as fire alarms and emergency lighting. This is best done by using a competent person to carry out periodic servicing and any necessary repairs. A record of the work carried out on such equipment and systems will help to demonstrate compliance with the law.
Safe storage of waste and other flammable materials can help to prevent the spread of fire if one breaks out. Highly combustible material and recyclables, such as paper and cardboard, should be stored away from places of potential ignition, such as heaters or electronics. Keeping these materials in a designated safe storage area will reduce the risk of them catching alight and causing a fire. Any build-up of these materials is also dangerous, so storage levels should be checked regularly and cleared when possible.
The impact a fire can have on businesses can be disastrous. From lost productivity and financial losses to injuries and fatalities, fire can cause serious damage to businesses of all sizes and some never fully recover from its effects.
For further information on how your business can prevent fire hazards and any other health and safety issues, please contact us here.