Whilst many think that the current demands on health and safety have gone a step too far, the statistics on fires and fatalities caused by fires tell a different story; in the first 6 months of 2013 alone, there were 140 deaths in the UK (Gov 2013), and so workplace fire safety should remain paramount for any employer: be they big or small.
In this guide we look at the 5 most common causes of fire in the workplace, in the hope that you can glean some insight into fire proofing your work premises.
1. Faulty Electrics
Faulty electrics are the biggest cause of workplace fires, loose wires, plugs that are over loaded and old equipment can all make for a potential death trap. Every workplace is legally obliged to take good care of any electric al equipment, and Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) is an absolute must. These tests, undertaken every year, will ensure that your electrical goods stay in good working order and are fit for purpose.
2. Flammable and Combustible Materials
Flammable and combustible materials represent a dangerous hazard to your employees as well as your business; whilst every workplace should place fire safety at the forefront of their risk assessments, this is particularly true of premises that hold any number of materials that are flammable or combustible. Appropriate storage, correct disposal and in-depth processes for handling these materials and or substances should be put in place.
3. Human Error
Another common reason for fires in the workplace is down to human error, accidents such as knocking liquid onto electrical equipment, burning food in the kitchen or spilling flammable or combustible liquids.
Proper staff training can avoid certain instances, and after performing some enquiries, Uksafetystore suggest that you additionally need to ensure that you have fire extinguishers at frequent points, as well as undertaking risk assessments to identify any possible causes of accidents.
4. General Negligence
Negligence can be differentiated from human error by the fact that such incidents are caused by proper procedures not being followed, or a member of staff undertaking an activity known as a potential fire hazard. Such instances are, again, easily avoided, and staff training on the dangers of certain areas within the workplace cannot be underestimated.
Common examples of negligence include stacking or partially covering electrical equipment that requires air, improperly storing flammable items (including paper) and not following proper precautions for the handling of substances.
Whilst many may get alarmed when they hear that arson is a common cause of workplace fires, it is indeed a relatively frequent occurrence. Factories and industrial estates are particularly prone to vandals and fires can spread quickly from unit to unit if proper fire control features aren’t installed.
If suitable, work places should fit fireproof shutters and a water sprinkler system to protect their property as far as possible; and deterrents such as CCTV and gating can all indicate to the would be intruder that your property is far from ideal for trespassing.
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Cormac Reynolds has worked for a variety of great sites in the safety area in his time. He enjoys sports and technology.