5 Tips For Business Owners To Help Prevent A Workplace Fire or Reduce Its Impact
Workplace fire prevention is a topic that doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
More often than not, it’s cast aside until an accident has already happened. This can lead to terrible injuries or death, costly repairs, or a total loss with having to start your business over from scratch.
According to the USFA, the United States witnessed about 18,700 office and store fires in 2019.
Going a step further, here are the most common leading causes of workplace fires:
- 32.3% were caused by cooking,
- 10.9% happened because of electrical malfunction,
- 8% were due to heating,
- 7.9% were caused by carelessness and other unintentional factors,
- 7.7% were caused by appliances.
Prevention and planning are essential since emergencies happen when we least expect them.
Below are some workplace fire safety tips that you and your team should put into practice as soon as possible to help avoid the safety and repair costs associated with a business fire.
1. Fire Protection Equipment
In order to protect your business and ensure the safety of your employees, you should consider investing in fire-fighting and fire protection equipment, such as smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, sprinklers, fire hydrants, etc.
It’s also common to install a fire protection system, which is a product designed to detect a fire within a building and prevent it from spreading.
Basic fire protection systems consist of a smoke detector and sprinkler, but based on your business needs, you can consider installing more advanced systems.
Did you know that, according to NFPA, 97% of fires were kept to the room of origin when sprinklers were present?
It’s definitely a cost-effective way to prevent further fire damage!
Also, make sure to:
- Maintain easy access to electrical control panels. If they are obstructed during an emergency, it will take longer to shut them down and it will put your employees in danger.
- Maintain easy access to fire alarm equipment and avoid blocking sprinklers and fire alarms with paint or dust.
- Test the fire alarm system regularly. You don’t want to have a system that does not work when you need it!
2. Emergency and Evacuation Planning
It is always a good idea to be prepared for emergencies. Therefore, conduct a fire drill at least once per year to make sure that all employees are aware of safety protocols in case of a fire.
Also, fire escape plans should be posted on every level of a building. This allows not only employees but visitors, too, to easily find exit locations and fire protection equipment.
3. Designated Smoking Areas
Every building should have areas designated for smoking that are provided with safe options to properly dispose of cigarettes.
Also, smoking should be forbidden in storage areas and in work zones where sparks are likely to occur. This will help reduce the possibility of accidental fires in or close to your building.
4. Regular Maintenance
In order to limit the possibility of overheating, sparks, and short circuits, ensure that all your machinery and items work properly.
– Fire Protection System: schedule maintenance services when due.
– Electrical Items: unless you’re qualified, you should avoid performing repairs on any electrical items. Instead, reach out to professionals or replace the item directly. Also, it’s a good practice to leave some space behind appliances that heat up to give them room to cool down. Remember to unplug them at the end of each day.
– Wire Replacement: how often do you check your power cords? To be safe, you should check them every 2-3 months and replace them if the protective coating is damaged. Also, avoid “octopus wiring” (crowding an electrical outlet with multiple extensions and junctions). A good rule to keep in mind is only to use one extension cord per outlet.
5. Safe Storage of Chemicals & Flammable Materials
If you possess chemicals or other flammable substances in your building, make sure to store them in their original containers in a safe place and use them responsibly. It is not uncommon that flammable liquid vapors explode when ignited by a spark. To ensure maximum safety, you may want all your employees to be aware of and understand instructions associated with these chemicals.
Unfortunately, implementing workplace fire prevention actions does not always prevent a fire.
If a fire occurs, call 911 immediately and notify all coworkers.
A workplace fire is a devastating event not only for its business owner but for its community as well. Helping prevent possible deaths, job and property loss should be a priority for all businesses.
If your business has suffered a fire and you’re preparing a claim, make sure to contact us. We’ll deal directly with your insurance company and maximize the settlement you receive.