Outbreaks of fire in workplaces are quite common and often result in costly damages.
Far more tragic than property destruction is that fire outbreaks result in serious injuries and claim the lives of employees and visitors trapped in the premises. Many people attribute burns as the leading cause of fire deaths. However, that’s not the case; as a matter of fact, most fire deaths are a result of smoke inhalation.
Quoting figures from a recent study conducted by the National Fire Protection Association, around 3,800 civilians died in 1,353,500 fires that broke out in 2021.
Unfortunately, negligence is the most common cause of workplace fire, which could include overusing equipment, spilling combustible or flammable liquids, and improper use of machinery. Even failure to follow health and safety guidelines can result in fire hazards.
However, as a business owner, you’re legally and morally responsible for the safety and well-being of your employees. Otherwise, you’ll be held accountable for the aftermath of fire outbreaks.
As not every business owner knows the steps they should take to prevent a fire outbreak, we decided to curate a guide on the same. In this guide, we’ll walk you through four safety tips that will help prevent fire outbreaks and create a safe workplace for your employees.
4 Tips to Prevent Fire Outbreaks in Workplaces
Irrespective of the size of your business, the potential for fire outbreaks is always present in workplaces. In particular, the risk of explosions and outbreaks of fire is usually high in industrial establishments where processes like welding take place.
However, it must be noted that even a small electrical shot can start a deadly fire within the industrial premises.
For decades, aqueous film-forming foam, or AFFF, was used to put out fires in industrial establishments, such as chemical manufacturing plants, airports, and military bases. But after the eye-opening revelation that AFFF is carcinogenic, numerous people who developed cancer after exposure to it have filed a firefighting foam cancer lawsuit to claim compensation.
Nonetheless, TorHoerman Law’s attorneys state that individuals involved in the production, transportation, and cleaning up of firefighting foams also qualify for compensation.
With that said, let’s check out the ways you can prevent fire outbreaks or mitigate their impact without using exposing your employees to AFFF:
1. Store Chemicals Safely and Securely
Nearly all workplaces use some form of flammable liquid, be it diesel fuel, gasoline liquid, or adhesives. Much of fire outbreaks in workplaces can be prevented by storing these chemicals and liquids in a safe manner. Otherwise, if they come into contact with naked flames, a fire will start and result in hefty damages.
As per Health and Safety Executive, the containers where flammable liquids are stored must be secured tightly when not in use. In addition to that, they should be stored in bins that are fire-resistant and designed to prevent spillage.
2. Regular Maintenance of Equipment and Machinery is Necessary
In most cases, faulty machinery is responsible for fires in workplaces. If equipment runs round the clock without any maintenance, the possibility of short circuits and overheating is high.
That is why regular maintenance of machinery and equipment is necessary to prevent fire outbreaks. When it comes to industrial equipment, only professionals should be allowed to handle them.
3. Keep Your Workplace Premises Neat and Tidy
The key to preventing a fire hazard is good housekeeping, meaning keeping your premises neat and tidy is important.
Accumulation of flammable materials such as cardboard boxes, plastic packaging, and paper documents can result in a fire hazard if kept too close to electrical equipment. Even dust build-up can in working environments pose a fire risk and other safety issues. Hence, decluttering the space is necessary.
In this regard, cleaning equipment regularly will prevent dust from accumulating in the work area. Also, make sure to install extractor fans to improve ventilation. A quick check of doorways, corridors, and work areas might serve as a reminder to declutter the space.
4. Install the Right Type of Fire Extinguishers
Sure, a fire extinguisher helps put out a fire before it turns into an unmanageable blaze. But did you know that installing the right one is what helps suppress fires? Here’s a quick rundown of the different types of fire extinguishers:
- Class A – textiles, papers, and woods
- Class B – flammable liquids
- Class C – electrical machinery
- Class D – metal shavings and powders
- Class K – oil or grease, especially from cooking
Besides installing the right fire extinguisher, providing adequate training to employees on how to use it is necessary. Hence, make sure to teach them the right way of using fire extinguishers so that they can use them to extinguish the fire before it gets out of control.
Workplace Fires: The Takeaway
Fire disasters or emergencies in workplaces can occur at any time.
Not only do fire outbreaks cause significant damage to property, data, and other valuable assets, but they also result in fatalities. The only way to prevent fire hazards is to understand their causes. Only then will it be possible to take precautions and avoid fire outbreaks in the future.
Remember, prevention is better than cure.