6 Fire Safety Tips for the Workplace
Too many business owners have the “it won’t happen to me” mentality when it comes to fire safety in the workplace. But fire safety is a hugely important aspect of risk management, and it’s one that needs to be taken seriously.
A fire can be catastrophic for businesses — it can threaten the safety of employees and members of the public, destroy expensive equipment and ruin your brand’s reputation. And most workplaces will have a number of fire risks.
So how can you go about improving the fire safety of your workplace? Here are six fire safety tips.
1: Keep Your Workplace Clean and Tidy
Untidy workplaces contain more health and safety hazards than clean and tidy ones, and many of these hazards are related to fire safety. With more clutter around the workplace, the “fire load” of the area or building increases. In other words, more items in the workplace can catch and fuel fire. Cluttered areas can also prevent swift evacuation, so it’s important to make sure corridors, stairs and fire exits are as clear as possible.
Any stock should be stored safely, and appropriate control measures implemented to safely store flammable materials and liquids in line with COSHH regulations. For example, if flammable materials don’t need storing in the workplace, they should be stored elsewhere — in a location where they pose less risk to people’s safety. Flammable materials also need to be stored in fire-resistant cabinets or containers that can retain spills.
Making sure any waste is removed from the workplace before it has a chance to build up can also improve fire safety. Waste can be hazardous if it is left and allowed to take up space in workplaces. It can block fire exits, and flammable waste such as cardboard can add to the fire load of the area.
2: Make Sure You Have Relevant Fire Safety Equipment
Fire safety equipment can reduce the risk of a fire occurring. In the event a fire does start in the workplace, the right equipment can alert employees and members of the public, and potentially extinguish the fire before it grows out of control.
You should ensure your workspace has smoke alarms, fire exit signs and lighting, fire escape ladders if necessary and fire prevention systems such as fire extinguishers and sprinklers.
3: Carry out Thorough Risk Assessments
You can’t effectively safeguard against fire if you’re not fully aware of the hazards in your workspace and the risks they pose. So before you begin implementing fire safety control measures, carry out a thorough risk assessment of the workplace.
For businesses with more than five employees, risk assessments are a legal requirement, but they’re also hugely important for protecting your business from harm.
Risk assessments should identify fire hazards — what could cause a fire to start? Then they should assess the level of risk posed, consider who could be affected, and how fire risks can be mitigated. You can then implement control measures proportionate to the level of risk. To ensure long-term fire safety in the workplace, it’s important to review and potentially revise risk assessments regularly.
4: Make Sure Employees Are Trained in Fire Safety
For your control measures to be effectively implemented, employees need training in fire safety. They need to know what to do in the event of a fire — from raising the alarm to evacuating the site or building. They should also know who their fire wardens are.
If staff aren’t prepared for or aware of fire safety procedures, this can make a bad situation worse. However, with the right training and practical experience gained during fire drills, staff will know what to do if there is a fire in the workplace. They can safely escort people out of the building or area and follow the steps outlined in your risk assessment.
5: Don’t Forget Electrical Safety
Most businesses will use electrical equipment of some sort — and where there’s electrical equipment, there are fire risks. Faulty wiring or overloaded plug sockets can overheat and spark fires that can quickly spread.
To reduce the risk of electrical fires, repair or get rid of faulty electricals as soon as possible, don’t overload plug sockets, and make sure equipment is regularly inspected and PAT tested.
6: Appoint Fire Wardens
You should have at least one fire warden in your workplace. Fire wardens are members of staff who are responsible for taking control of creating and maintaining fire safety procedures. In the event of a fire, they will also need to coordinate evacuation and check no one remains in the building.
Fire wardens will need to undergo fire warden training. After training, they should know exactly how to maintain fire safety. If a fire breaks out, they’ll know how to keep employees and customers safe.
Join CHAS and gain access to risk mitigation services. We can help you achieve compliance across a wide range of areas and reduce fire risks in your workplace.