When it comes to safety in the workplace, we seem to focus on a lot of things such as the way we conduct yourself, the way we behave towards others and how to communicate effectively so that we do not make anybody uncomfortable. However, an intrinsic, and sometimes overlooked, aspect of safety in the workplace is fire safety, and most of the workplaces are not even close to prepared for this kind of mishap, and it happens more often than you think. To back our claims with numbers and put things into perspective, according to Fireward, 22,200 fires were reported in office buildings out of which 75% were accidental. Of that, 3700 cases were recorded wherein alarms did not sound, claiming 17 lives. So what is putting your workplace at risk? A number of factors, the first being the premises. If your office is located in a commercial building, then you’re at high risk. Other high-risk areas for workplaces are industrial premises and fires which start in pubs or restaurants and spread to the rest of the building. In these cases, there are measures that you can take to keep the workplace safe.
If you are someone responsible for fire safety in your office premises or workplace, here is a handy checklist for you on how you can drive fire safety in the workplace.
Understand the risks, conduct a Fire Risk Assessment
Seek professional help for this, it is one of the best preventive measures that you can take to ensure the safety of your workplace. A risk assessment will help you understand the problem areas so that solutions can be devised to deal with them. Sometimes, there may be an issue you may not even be aware of because it may not be visible to the naked eye. For example, 25% of accidental fires in commercial buildings in 2014 were caused by faulty appliances and leads. This was because of overloaded circuits and bad maintenance; a risk assessment could have avoided many such mishaps.
Identify the zones which are high risk
In general, zones which have a lot of equipment are undoubtedly high-risk areas. Studies have shown that misuse of equipment is the most common cause of fires. Areas which generate heat and use a lot of electricity are also high risk, as are storage facilities and cold storage. These zones must have addressable fire alarm panels installed so that if there is even the slightest threat, an alarm is immediately sounded and the situation can be contained in time. Gas detectors in cold storage facilities are also important, because sometimes a workplace may consist of a small production unit as well. If this is a case, then gas detectors are a must. It’s also important to demarcate smoking areas since over 1/3rd of deaths recorded in commercial buildings were due to lighters coming into contact with flammable ingredients as a result of leaks or simply not putting out a cigarette properly.
Make fire safety measures accessible
This involves proper training of your entire workforce. All the employees should be trained on how to handle a fire if the situation arises. Panic should never be indulged, instead, occasional drills can be conducted so that the workforce is trained in the best ways to exit the premises in times of en emergency. If the workforce is prepared, there will be less panic and pandemonium so one can avoid mishaps. Staff should also be taught on how to operate the fire alarms and control panels so that if the need arises, everyone is prepared.
Take the necessary precautions to fight a fire
It’s one thing to sound an alarm, but what about action? Fire panels are complete with fire suppressants such as fire retardant chemicals, oxygen reducers and sprinkler systems where necessary. These are all measures that will deter a fire and prevent it from spreading so that the damage is minimized and controlled until the authorities arrive. Orderly evacuation from the building is also necessary because you do not want anybody to get hurt. Making sure that fire extinguishers and buckets of sand are present in the stairways, elevators and on each floor is imperative when it comes to taking precautions. Also, smoke detectors, heat detectors and gas detectors in every room, as per your risk assessment are a must.
So there you have it, the multiple ways in which you can drive fire safety in your workplace. We hope that this blog has made it easier to understand and evaluate the risks in terms of fires in the workplace.
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