Fire Safety in the Workplace

It’s an all too common fact that fires often break out in the workplace and can result in the serious injury or deaths of anyone present. Whether you work in an office, factory or shop the risks are still the same. All major fires generally start out small and can quickly escalate into a major inferno.
Now what can you do to make your working environment a safer place for yourself and your employees when it comes to fire safety? Well quite a lot actually. Below we will go over some basic safety tips that will help ensure you protect your staff in case the worst ever happens and you experience a fire.
Most offices and workplaces will have a range of flammable items present in them. These could be things such as paper, cleaning chemicals or waste materials such as shredded paper or old envelopes to name but a few. Anything that is capable of burning should be considered a potential risk. Any flammable item should be safely stowed away in an area that is well ventilated so as to minimise the risk of ignition. A working ventilation fan should be present as this will help staff escape more safely in the event of a fire due to the smoke and fumes being cleared quicker. Adequate emergency lighting should be installed and battery powered torches present for staff so as they can find their way out if the power blackens out the building. Never use a naked flame such as a lighter as this could ignite further fires during escape.
Do not leave unwanted rubbish or items such as waste paper or boxes to accumulate in the workplace as this represents a serious fire hazard as well as potentially blocking escape routes. Ensure that all staff are aware of the fire escape routes and install a fire alarm if you don’t already have one. If the office has one in place already make sure it is tested regularly each year by a qualified fire alarm engineer and that none of the detectors are covered, blocked or been painted over.
It is now law in the UK that all work premises are non-smoking. Provide signs to highlight this and make sure that wherever staff go as a designated smoking area that there is no hazardous waste such as old paper or cloth. This could catch alight if a cigarette is discarded accidentally.
A major cause of office fires is due to a short circuit at the plug or in electrical machinery such as computers or heaters. Ensure that any unused power socket is switched off and have your sockets tested annually to make sure they are in proper working condition. Never ever plug multiple plugs into a power socket as this increases the risk of an overload and potential short circuit. Electrical fires can be very dangerous and so you should also provide the correct type of fire extinguisher for such a hazard. A CO2 extinguisher is especially designed for this very purpose.