Whether your company deals with machinery and flammable materials on a daily basis or is a more standard, office-style set up, fire safety is of the utmost importance. Before you can get a better idea of what measures need to be taken for fire safety in your own workplace, you will need to carry out a thorough assessment.
This guide will help you establish what you need to do to prevent a fire and ensure the safety of your employees, as well as avoiding any loss in revenue due to damage to property.
The first step of carrying out any safety assessment is identifying the potential hazards. Is there anything in your workplace that could start a fire? Any electrical equipment, naked flames, heaters or lighting all have the potential to cause a fire. If there’s a chance — no matter how unlikely — that it could start a fire, then it needs to be assessed.
So now that you’ve identified anything that has the potential to start a fire, you need to identify anything in the workplace that could burn. Any materials on-site like paper, packaging, rubbish or furniture all have the potential to burn, as well as any accelerants like petrol, paint or alcohol.
Bringing in a fire safety consultant would be beneficial at this stage, as they have the knowledge and experience to carry out an efficient evaluation of your workplace.
Whenever there’s a fire in the workplace, no matter the size, there will always be people at risk. With this in mind, you need to establish who will be at risk and if there’s anyone who is especially vulnerable or more at risk than others.
For example, people working in certain areas of the workplace may be at more risk than co-workers, like if they work on the top floor of a building or around flammable materials. Any people who are not familiar with their surroundings (new employees, visitors or customers) will be less likely to know the safety procedures, possibly making them more at risk as a result.
At any point, will there be children, elderly or disabled people on the premises? If so, they will be to be taken into account, as they are most vulnerable during a dangerous situation.
Now that you’ve identified any fire hazards and established who will be at risk in the event of a fire, it’s time take action based on these findings.
Wherever possible, you need to start taking the right steps to reduce and remove risk from the workplace. An accidental fire could occur at any time, so you need to think of ways it could be prevented and dealt with. You’ve identified hazards around your workplace, so begin to think of the worst case scenario for each risk and plan for it.
When people are in danger, there needs to be quick, efficient action to make sure the fire is taken care of before it has the chance to cause any harm or damage to property. You need to have a plan for any incident that occurs, meaning that people need to be aware of fire exits and where safety equipment is located, as well as how to use it effectively.
Although some of the vulnerabilities and potential fire hazards of your workplace have been identified, it doesn’t mean that you’ve stamped out the risk of a fire taking place. To make sure you maintain a strong level of health and safety and give your employees peace of mind knowing that they work in a safe place, you need to plan ahead and train staff appropriately.
Keep a record of any fire hazards, as well as what action you’ve taken to reduce or completely remove the risk. Have a clear and thorough plan of how you intend to prevent a fire — and if one does occur, what steps need to be taken by yourself and employees.
All staff need to be trained to deal with fire hazards; this means you need to carry out regular fire drills and keep a record of how well they went. Any staff members that have been nominated to use fire prevention methods need to be sufficiently trained to do so.
Your fire risk assessment should be reviewed on a regular basis, as it’s likely that there will be changes in the workplace that could make your current plan less efficient.
If you’ve had a fire since your last assessment, or even a close call, then you need to establish why it happened and how it could have been prevented. Any alterations or additions to the property or staff will need to be taken into account, as it will change a lot in regards to your current plan in the event of a fire. Do you have regular fire drills? If you don’t, this needs to change. Each time you review your assessment, you increase the chances of it becoming more efficient, creating a safer work environment.
Fire safety in the workplace is a paramount concern and not something that should be taken lightly. Not only could a fire put lives at risk, but it could completely ruin a business, especially if any damage to property or materials causes loss of revenue. Every company should plan sufficiently for any and every situation in regards to fire. You never know what an incident could occur and, without the right plan to deal with it, you’ll be putting yourself and all employees at risk.