Did you know that 40 percent of businesses never reopen following a natural disaster, like a fire? Indeed, workplace fires can be devastating – not only to your employees and everyone else who are in your business premise but also to your company.
It is clearly your responsibility to prevent workplace fires – neglecting it can cost you a lot, even can land you to prison!
Fortunately, workplace fires are not something that business owners can’t prevent. The key is in the planning and plan execution.
To help you out, here are five things to consider when planning for or improving your company’s fire safety procedures:
1. Assess and reassess fire risks
Electrical wires are potentially hazardous if not well-maintained. That said, make sure you check and recheck for the functionality of your electrical equipment, as well as the wiring. Be sure to contact qualified electrician to help you assess your business premise electricity.
Another important thing to assess in the clutter in your business premise: Clutter is known as fuel for fire. Make sure your workplace has sufficient waste disposal equipment.
Finally, you also need to assess your chemical material storage. Make sure that the storage area has adequate ventilation and make sure that you read the label and safety data sheet to determine the flammability and the hazardousness of the chemical substances.
2. Inspect fire detection and warning systems, as well as firefighting equipment
Assess your fire detection and warning systems, and make sure that they are in working order. Obviously, you don’t want your systems to stay idle when fire happens.
Another aspect that you should focus on is the maintenance of your firefighting equipment: Are the sprinklers working? Are the fire extinguishers fully charged and ready to use? How’s the inspection on the equipment?
3. Double-check accessibility
Earlier, I mentioned about clutter; not only paper, boxes, etc. are the typical fuels for fire, clutter also potentially blocks access to fire exit routes and fire prevention tools. You need to make sure that the fire exit routes are cleared from any obstacles; you also need to clear the access to electrical control panels, fire hoses, fire extinguishers, and other firefighting equipment.
Don’t forget about emergency numbers (and your company address). Those should be within reach by everyone in your business premise.
In combating workplace fires, accessibility is crucial, so prioritize this in your fire prevention plan.
4. Ensure work safety practices
A plan is just, well, a plan when it’s not executed properly. For this purpose, raising your employees’ awareness on the danger of fire helps a great deal in the plan execution. You should communicate fire safety precautions to your employees, and keep them up to date on the latest practices.
This may sound simple (and a bit silly), but it’s no use having fire extinguishers when nobody can use it. Everyone in the company should learn the proper use of a fire extinguisher, fire hose, and other firefighting tools.
If you allow smoking in your business premise, you need to set up a ground rule, allowing your employees to smoke only in the designated areas, with proper disposal bin. Smoking in storage areas must be prohibited.
5. Comply to OSHA or HSE guidelines
OSHA (US) or HSE (UK) enforces standards to ensure safe and healthy working conditions, which include fire safety procedures. As an employer, you need to comply with the regulations, which involve business premise inspection, incident reporting, and safety training.
If you need more tips, this infographic created by FireSealsDirect can show you some important tips and facts on workplace fires that you must know.
I completely understand that fire safety regulations are there to follow, but don’t just do it for the sake of legal compliance; your employee safety should sit at your top priority. If your employee is well-taken-care-of, your business will, too.
As always, consult with trusted fire safety experts and consultants, and follow the guideline. A safe workplace means a good business.
photo credit: Best emergency exit ever