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Workplace fires can devastate a business enterprise and put people’s lives in danger. What makes things harder is that fire hazards in the workplace are everywhere, from the employees who secretly smoke in the backroom to appliances that people sometimes leave plugged and unattended in the pantry. 

Enforcing fire prevention measures will protect your employees and customers and safeguard your livelihood. This article discusses the workplace fire hazards you must watch out for and the measures you can take to prevent a calamity.

Common Causes of Fire Hazards in the Workplace

Awareness is crucial for fire prevention, and knowing the common fire hazards in the workplace will enable you to develop a plan to minimize fire risks. 

Take note of the following:

  1. Electrical malfunctions – Faulty or damaged wiring is the leading cause of electrical fires in commercial and corporate buildings. These are dangerous because damaged hidden wires can spark and cause fires without warning
  2. Faulty equipment – Malfunctioning office equipment, computers, appliances, computers, and electric security devices are also fire hazards. Watch out for equipment with possible manufacturing defects, especially if they have moving parts or generate heat.
  3. Poor housekeeping and rule violations – Smoking secretly in the utility rooms, leaving electric cords for computers or office appliances in tangles on the floor, improper waste disposal – all of these can drastically increase the risk of fires in the workplace. 
    • Smoking – Smoking is dangerous in workplaces that store lots of combustible materials.
    • Unclean cooking appliances – Greasy pantry appliances like ovens, microwaves, and bread toasters can easily catch fire if someone’s cooking goes wrong.
    • Plugged and unattended appliances – Even if an appliance isn’t turned on, the electrical current will still flow as long as it is plugged into the source.
  • 4. Improper storage of flammable and combustible materials – Any ordinary office or commercial establishment can have aerosol cleaning products, flammable chemicals like solvents and fuel, paper, wood pallets, alcohol, and butane torches. They are safe when stored and used properly, but failing that, these materials and substances can cause massive fires.

Reducing Fire Hazards in the Workplace

After learning the most common causes of fire hazards in the workplace, the next logical step is to take precautions against them. 

Here are five ways to reduce workplace fire hazards:

  1. Conduct annual inspections of your business establishment, offices, or building. You can work with Certified Fire Protection Specialists by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) or consult third-party engineers. Finally, schedule an inspection with your local fire department. Instead of dreading their visit, consider it a welcome opportunity to make your workplace safer for you, your employees, and customers.
  2. Invest in equipment maintenance. This is a must for industrial, manufacturing, and packaging facilities that use high-voltage machines or fuel-powered equipment. Check for defects, send malfunctioning equipment out for servicing, and replace worn-out parts immediately to ensure they are in good working order.
  3. Hold an annual training on fire safety for onsite employees. This covers training for proper housekeeping, organization, decluttering, and fire prevention protocols that every employee or worker on the premises should know about:
  • Avoid putting large objects or any obstruction in corridors leading to fire exits and stairwells.
  • Report broken electrical equipment and machinery immediately.
  • Keep flammable materials like paint, aerosols, and fuel in their proper storage.
  • Keep combustible materials like paper, curtains, propane tanks, etc. away from heat-generating machines.

Inform workers about the building’s fire escape plans, too. Make sure everyone knows the locations of the emergency exits, fire extinguishers, water hoses, and medical kits.

  1. Strictly enforce fire prevention policies. For example, make smoking off-limits in areas where workers handle flammable and combustible materials. Appoint pantry monitors who’ll monitor employees using the cooking appliances and ensure they unplug them and clean up after themselves.
  2. Invest in fire detection and prevention systems. Smoke detectors with built-in alarms provide early warnings, giving people precious minutes to escape a fire. Meanwhile, sprinkler systems and containment measures like fire-proofing walls will stall the fire’s progress, helping firefighters extinguish the flames completely. 

What To Do in Case of a Fire at Work

Suppose a fire breaks out despite everyone’s efforts to prevent one. What should everyone do to minimize losses and ensure everyone’s safety?

First, you must pull the fire alarm if the smoke detection system hasn’t kicked in yet. Time is essential in this situation; every second or minute you can give to people hurrying away from the flames can save their lives. If you must provide instructions, make it brief and say it loud and clear to avoid the need for repetition. 

Follow the building’s evacuation plan. If you are a supervisor or someone entrusted with an important task in the event of an evacuation, stay calm so you can perform your duty. Call 911 to report the fire, then help direct everyone to the fire exits without causing a panic. The last thing you want to happen is for people to rush towards the doors, blocking everyone else’s path instead of filing out smoothly – and quickly – in an orderly manner.

If the fire is contained and manageable, employees trained to use fire extinguishers can try and put out the flames. Even if they fail to extinguish it completely, they can give everyone more time to exit the building safely.

What if the fire progressed while you were still inside the building? Stay low to avoid the smoke, which rises while the cleaner air sinks low. If possible, moisten your handkerchief and keep it over your nose and mouth to prevent inhaling toxic fumes. Keep moving away from the source of the fire. If you come across closed doors, test the handles first with a sleeve-covered elbow. If it’s too hot, don’t open it and look for alternative routes instead. 

Got Fire Damage in the Workplace? Call a Restoration Company

Even a tiny fire immediately extinguished can leave significant damage to your property. If this happens in your business premises, call Restoration 1 of Pennmar.

We are a property restoration company with years of experience repairing and reconstructing commercial properties with fire damage. No matter how minor or extensive the damage is, our artisans and builders can restore your property and make it safe to occupy again. 

Contact Restoration 1 of Pennmar today.