2017 saw one of the deadliest fires in mainland Britain since recordings began in the 20th Century. Whilst there are still a number of questions to be answered, the tragedy at Grenfell Tower has acted as a wake-up call to many organisations in relation to fire safety.
From a personal perspective, fire safety is a topic quite close to my heart. Over the course of my working life, not only have I written and taught Fire Safety and Fire Warden courses to several different companies whilst working in the practical health and safety training arena, I have also seen first-hand the devastation that can be caused by fires within the workplace during my time within the Fire Service.
The risk of fire is present in any organisation. Whether you work in an office, a workshop, a hotel, fire safety should always be made a priority. With that in mind, here are 3 basic tips to follow to keep your workplace as safe as possible from fire.
- Eliminate workplace fire hazards
Among the most common causes of fire in the workplace are; neglect and misuse of electrical appliances and wiring, unsuitable storage of flammable materials and discarded cigarettes and matches. Paying close attention to keeping work environments clean and tidy, maintaining electrical safety, regular PAT testing and inspections of operational equipment and providing designated smoking areas with adequate cigarette bins and ashtrays are all ways in which your organisation can reduce the risk of fire. The company’s Fire Risk Assessment can be a great tool for identifying areas of concern and reducing the risk of fire within the workplace.
I don’t like to give the ‘failure to plan’ lecture, however knowing the best course of action to take in a fire related emergency can ultimately save lives. Preparations include installing adequate fire safety equipment (extinguishers, alarms etc), and signage displaying multiple fire escape plans on every level of your workplace. It is also important to ensure that employees are educated on your company’s specific emergency procedures and that you maintain fire safety training. This should include undertaking 6 monthly fire evacuation exercises as a minimum within your organisation to ensure that staff understand exactly what to do and where to go in an evacuation.
- Maintain fire safety equipment
All equipment provided for detecting and tackling fires within the workplace should be regularly inspected and maintained by a competent individual. There are 5 classes of fire, all of which take a different approach and require different extinguishing media to deal with the situation effectively. So, as part of your fire safety training it is important to ensure that your staff not only have access to the right kind of extinguisher, but that they also know how to use them.