Don’t Wait for Disaster: Steps You Can Take to Ensure Fire Safety in the Workplace

Don’t Wait for Disaster: Steps You Can Take to Ensure Fire Safety in the Workplace

Fire Safety Training in the Workplace

It’s no secret that the U.S. has a fire problem: The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) published that every 23 seconds, a local fire department responds to a fire. When it comes to workplace safety, there’s no such thing as too much attention to detail — especially as far as fire is concerned.

It’s important to ensure everyone who works in your company knows what to do if there is ever a fire and how they can help prevent one from happening in the first place. Not only does it protect the lives of employees, but it also safeguards business assets and reduces the risk of legal action. Inadequate fire safety measures can result in catastrophic consequences, including physical injuries, property damage and even fatalities.

Thankfully, there are ways to ensure your workplace is as safe as possible.

9 Steps You Can Take to Ensure Fire Safety

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: your employees and even visitors to your workplace should all be aware of the risks and how to react when there’s a fire. Life safety is the most important when implementing fire safety procedures and training employees how to get out is first step.

Here are 9 things you can do to consider:

1. Conduct a risk assessment

A risk assessment is the first step in identifying a potential fire hazard in the workplace. It involves evaluating the physical layout, electrical systems and equipment, as well as the processes, materials and substances used in the workplace. Once the hazards have been identified, evaluate existing fire safety measures to determine their effectiveness.

2. Develop a fire safety plan

​​Accidental fires can happen at any time, and it is essential to be prepared. A fire safety plan is a comprehensive document that outlines what to do in the event of a workplace fire. The plan should establish an emergency response team and define their roles and responsibilities. It should also define evacuation procedures and safe evacuation routes, establish communication protocols, as well as determine the roles and responsibilities of employees during an emergency. Ensure that the plan is easily accessible to everyone, and conduct periodic emergency drills to measure employees understanding of evacuation procedures. Employers are required to have at least two period drills both planned and unplanned.

During these drills, employees should practice evacuating the building using the designated emergency exits and routes. It’s important to identify any potential issues that could arise in the event of an actual fire and/or emergency correct any deficiencies. 

3. Provide fire safety training

Educate employees on fire hazards and prevention, train employees on fire safety procedures and evacuation routes, and ensure they know how to use fire extinguishers. It’s essential to provide training to new employees and periodic refresher training to all employees. Ensure that all employees understand the importance of fire safety and are aware of the potential consequences of failing to follow fire safety protocols. Employers should always stress life safety first, educate and ensure disabled are assisted first.

4. Install a robust fire detection and suppression system

Installing a robust fire detection and suppression system is critical to ensuring fire safety in the workplace. A fire alarm and smoke detector serve as the first line of defense in detecting fires and alerting employees to evacuate. In addition, the presence of a portable fire extinguisher can provide immediate means of fighting smaller fires and preventing them from escalating.

Fire suppression and extinguishers must be properly maintained and inspected by certified individuals. to ensure their effectiveness. Regular inspection, testing and maintenance of these systems can help prevent malfunctions and ensure that they’re always in optimal working condition.

5. Maintain electrical equipment and wiring

Electrical equipment and wiring are common causes of fires in the workplace. Regularly inspect and replace damaged or faulty components, and ensure proper use of electrical equipment. Implement a program for routine maintenance and ensure that all electrical equipment is installed and grounded correctly. Follow proper procedures for handling electrical equipment, such as de-engergizing machinery before maintenance or repairs.

6. Control flammable materials

Proper storage, labeling and disposal of flammable liquids or materials are essential to ensure fire safety. These should be stored in designated areas away from potential ignition sources such as heat sources or electrical equipment — and labeled appropriately to prevent confusion and minimize risk. Proper disposal procedures should be implemented to ensure they’re disposed of safely and appropriately. Additionally, training employees on safe handling and use is also crucial. Ensure evacuation routes avoid areas where harmful chemicals are stored or used.

7. Establish and enforce a smoking policy

You might be surprised, but smoking is a major cause of fires in the workplace.In fact, smoking materials are responsible for starting a significant number of fires — and unfortunately — fatalities each year. The NFPA reported that an estimated annual average of 18,100 fires started by smoking materials kill an average of 590 people.

The best way to prevent these types of fires is by banning smoking inside your building altogether. However, if you have employees who must smoke while they work, you can create designated smoking areas outside. Ensure that these areas are well-lit and away from buildings and vehicles. Additionally, make sure that employees don’t throw cigarette butts in the trash or on the ground. Best practice, do not allow smoking on the premises. Encourage employees to use proper extinguish receptacle when finished smoking.

8. Inspect and maintain the building regularly

If you want to prevent fires, you need to keep your building in good repair. This means inspecting it regularly for problems such as faulty wiring and loose fittings. You should also make sure that all smoke detectors are working properly — if they aren’t, install new ones. Addressing potential hazards promptly can be the difference between a small investment and a costly, devastating fire.

9. Audit and update the fire safety plan at least annually

A few things in life are completely predictable, and one of them is the fact that things change over time. For that reason, OSHA recommends that companies should review and update their fire safety plan on at least annually — at least once every year, but ideally more frequently than that. If there are any changes in your building’s layout or in the number of employees who work there, make sure their new responsibilities are reflected in the plan. Also, if during drills deficiencies are identified, update your plan and training.

FFVA Mutual: A Trusted Partner in Workplace Safety

Creating a safe workplace requires more than just workers’ compensation insurance. That’s where FFVA Mutual comes in. We’re a trusted partner in workplace safety, providing a variety of safety training programs and resources to help you prevent accidents and injuries.

Our safety videos, upcoming events and safety toolkit are just a few of the resources available to you. Whether you’re looking to train new employees or refresh the skills of seasoned workers, we have the tools and expertise to help you create a safer work environment.

But we don’t stop there. Our Safety Solutionists are available to answer your specific safety questions and help you find solutions that work for your unique workplace. With FFVA Mutual as your safety partner, you can have peace of mind knowing that you’re doing everything possible to keep your employees safe and your business running smoothly.

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