Fire Safety in the Workplace: What You Need to Know

Every October, millions of people turn their attention to one event. No, we’re not talking about the World Series — it’s Fire Prevention Week, and it serves as a helpful safety reminder for workers in all industries. This year, the week takes place from October 8 to October 14. As we head into the colder months of the year we spend more time indoors, so it is the ideal time to revisit fire safety in the workplace to prevent an emergency.

Increasing awareness of fire risks has led to real results. From 2006 to 2015, the fire-related death rate fell 21.6%. While there are a number of factors that have improved fire safety (such as new fireproof building materials), education has played an important role in reducing mortalities. Reduce the chances of a fire emergency by giving your coworkers fire prevention tips for the workplace that could save their lives.

Reduce Clutter to Reduce Fire Risk

When it comes to fire, everyday office supplies are fuel for destruction. The papers, folders, trash and coats that tend to make a mess around the workplace do more than get in the way — they can increase the intensity and duration of a fire. Even worse, clutter can make an escape more challenging when a room fills with smoke and visibility plummets.

If your workplace has a kitchen, it’s especially important to be mindful of tidiness because cooking accidents account for about a third of nonresidential building fires in the US. The second most common cause of fires in workplaces is general carelessness, such as placing flammable materials too close to a heat source. A clean office is a safe office when it comes to fires.

Learn How to Properly Use Safety Equipment

OSHA has requirements that indicate the number, location and class of fire extinguishers your workplace needs. An indoor pool will have different rules than an industrial facility containing dangerous chemicals, so make sure your company is in line when it comes to fire extinguisher requirements.

If a fire does occur, it’s essential that your team knows how to react. Placing fire extinguishers in a work environment is useless if your employees do not understand how to use them. Learn how to use and maintain your fire extinguishers, and pass that knowledge on to fellow employees. One easy way to remember how to use this equipment is the PASS method.

 How to Use a Fire Extinguisher: The PASS Method

  • Pull the extinguisher pin
  • Aim the extinguisher nozzle at the fire’s base
  • Squeeze the handle
  • Sweep the nozzle from side to side

The extinguishing agent is not an unlimited resource, so if you have to choose where to spray, focus your efforts near the most efficient escape route. If you cannot breathe, the fire is too large or the heat is too intense, focus on escaping rather than putting out the flames.

 Identify Potential Fire Dangers

Fire risks vary by industry, but no matter what field you work in, inspections make a big difference in safety. Create a checklist of areas to examine in your work environment. Include high-risk points for your inspection, such as furnaces/radiators, spaces with electrical wiring, chemical storage areas, older machinery and hot kitchen surfaces. Something as simple as a loose wire or overheating equipment can lead to disaster, so be aware of your surroundings.

You don’t have to go it alone in preventing fires, so make it a goal for your entire team to stay alert. Discuss the value of everyday vigilance and the fire dangers that everyone should be looking out for on a daily basis. Safety is everyone’s responsibility, so make it clear that there is never any shame in speaking up about a fire risk.

Stop Workplace Fires Before They Start

Changing workplace attitudes about fire safety isn’t a simple task, but we can help you make an impact at your company. Check out our collection of videos on fire prevention at work that demonstrate proper fire safety procedures you can implement today. Make an effort to prepare so you can mitigate a potential disaster.