The Top Workplace Fire Hazards & How to Avoid Them
With the workplace being a hub for many different people to pass through at all times of the day (and night) and various pieces of equipment being used, it is easy for safety procedures to be overlooked and for accidents and incidents to happen.
As one of the biggest risks to most environments, identifying fire hazards is essential, allowing you to ensure that the correct procedures are put in place along with the required controls to avoid a fire starting in the first place.
If your premises are not cleaned consistently and to an appropriate standard, the subsequent dust build up in a poorly ventilated space can pose a fire risk.
Likewise, objects that generate heat such as computer monitors, extract fans and warehouse machinery such as fork lift trucks, need to be kept free of dust and grease to prevent burning and overheating ‐ potentially starting a fire.
Poorly maintained equipment
As with poorly cleaned equipment, a lack of maintenance to electricals, machinery and equipment can be a fire hazard in the workplace. Equipment should be routinely inspected for any signs of faults, frayed cabling, or obvious damage that could cause it to become a fire risk.
Electrical items susceptible to all manner of wear and tear and that draw significant currents and are used often such as:
- Vacuum Cleaners
Having a Portable Appliance Test regime in place will help to ensure that equipment remains safe to use at all times.
Combustibles stored on site
Many workplaces, from offices to warehouses, will accumulate combustible materials such as paper, cardboard and wood (Class A fire risk materials) on a regular basis. If these are not regularly disposed of, the build-up provides a lot of fuel for any fire that may break out, escalating the problem significantly.
Combustible materials should ideally be stored away from sources of ignition, and kept to an absolute minimum, to reduce the “fire load” within the building.
Class A refuse and unwanted pallets are often left outside of buildings and these present a significant fire risk – if they are accidentally or maliciously ignited, flames can breach the underside of the soffits and fascia and quickly travel inside the building.
If the fire is large enough, heat can be conducted through the building’s perimeter and ignite materials inside.
Always keep Class A materials as least 6 metres away from the building and keep any bins locked shut when not in use.
Flammable liquids (Class B Risks) are prevalent at many sites too, whether that’s in the form of fuels such as petrol or diesel, or paints and cleaning fluids used in hotels, restaurants and factories.
It is essential that flammable liquids are stored correctly to avoid a fire, as they can ignite instantly if the invisible vapours they give off come into contact with a naked flame or spark.
To avoid this fire hazard, store all flammable liquids in a ventilated, locked cabinet, and ensure all containers are sealed properly with no leaks or spillages. Only use the bare minimum you need at any time, decanting a small quantity into a suitable container and locking safely away what you do not need.
With so many people in the workplace on a daily basis, it can be easy for accidents to happen ‐ making human error one of the most common causes of fires at work.
To reduce the likelihood of an outbreak of fire occurring ensure that any specific risks you have on site are documented and suitably managed, provide proper fire safety training to your staff so that they can act swiftly to minimise any small fire, ensure that staff are aware of the correct protocols to follow whilst working, and exactly what they should do should a fire ever occur.
A Fire Risk Assessment is an excellent way of analysing your work space from a fire safety point of view, and these are a legal requirement too. Any shortcomings in your fire safety plans will be identified providing you with an opportunity to remove or reduce particular risks.
A workplace that is open to the public can be at risk of arson attacks, which can be attributed to a large percentage of fires in commercial premises and schools. To protect your business from arson, securing your workplace to prevent unauthorised access is a good place to start.
Likewise, CCTV and Intruder Alarms will act as an effective deterrent to potential arsonists and criminals.
To identify the fire hazards present in your workplace, our expert team here at Fire Action are able to carry out expert fire risk assessments on a wide and diverse range of properties. Our assessments cover all necessary elements in order to enable you to minimise the risk of fire in your workplace.
For further information, or to discuss booking your fire risk assessment, simply get in touch with our team today and we’ll be happy to help you.