Fires in the workplace cause terrible damage to property, as well as injury and even death. Over 22,000 non-residential fires took place between 2013 and 2014, with the majority of these occurring in the workplace. All workplaces differ and whatever the reason for these fires breaking out, there are steps that every employer can take to reduce the risk of becoming a statistic. Here are some common hazards to be on the watch for:
Build-up of combustible material
Especially in an office environment, a build-up of waste paper, cardboard and other combustibles is a common issue. If a fire did break out, these materials would make it far worse as they are easily ignited, so regularly disposing of them in the correct way is highly advisable. Storing such waste is best done off-site but if this isn’t possible then make sure it is as far away from the main building as possible and safe from any sources of ignition. For a Fire risk assessor Gloucester, visit http://keloscape.co.uk/fire-risk-assessment/
Blocking Fire Exits
If you should spot a fire exit that has been blocked with waste, furniture or any other equipment then this must be cleared immediately. Fire exits must be easily accessible for all and any blockages will make escape difficult, if not impossible, should a fire break out. Any restrictions on being able to quickly and safely escape a building must be rectified.
A fault with electrics is one of the main causes of workplace fires in the UK. A regular inspection for any damaged plugs or loose cables is essential. All electrical equipment must be PAT tested by an expert and any faulty or damaged goods be switched off and replaced.
You might be alarmed to realise that the last time your workplace alarm was tested was a long, long time ago! What’s the use in having a system if nobody knows if it’s going to perform when it’s needed most? A maintenance schedule should be in place and batteries changed regularly on smaller alarms throughout the premises. Does everyone in your building know where their nearest fire escapes are and where the meeting point is after evacuation? If not, get this sorted before it’s too late.
Members of staff should have a designated smoking area away from any flammable materials nearby. Incorrectly discarded cigarettes can easily start a fire and this is extremely dangerous if it takes place next to highly flammable materials. Provide special cigarette bins and encourage staff to properly dispose of their cigarette ends. The smoking area should also be sufficiently distant from the main building.
Open Fire Doors
The purpose of a fire door is to prevent the further spread of a fire after it has broken out. Along a hallway or corridor, it’s tempting to prop these doors open to make access easier. The trouble with this is that if a fire did break out, the fire doors would be useless and fire would spread much quicker than it should. If you see fire doors being kept open, you need to close them straight away.