The last thing anyone wants to deal with at a workplace is an accident, especially a fire.
Fires represent a very serious danger that can cause huge losses , destroy a business and potentially take human lives.
Prevention is absolutely critical when dealing with the issue of fire safety, and there are many different factors that can be implemented to lessen the risk.
There are plenty of factors that can increase the chances of a fire breaking out.
Here , we outline the 4 most common causes of fire at the workplace, and what preventive action one can take to minimise the risk of fire incidence.
- Faulty Electrical Equipment:
One of the most common causes of workplace fires is claimed as electrical faults.
They tend to be caused by defective wiring, overloaded sockets or plugs, and equipment that is old and malfunctioning, becoming overwhelmed and leading to heating of cables and equipments which further leads to smouldering and other combustible/ inflammatory material propagating the fire.
It’s important to note that it is legally applicable for a workplace to ensure that all equipment works and functions correctly, and this includes electrical machinery
Every year, it is mandatory that a Portable Appliance Test (PAT) be conducted on all electrical equipment at a workplace to ensure it functions properly and is not a safety hazard.
All items that pass the PAT test are labelled with a sticker outlining the date of test and pass.
Knowing all electrical equipment at work functions fully and is in correct working order is vitally important to fire prevention.
- Mess/ Disorder:
Clutter is a common issue in offices and if regular cleaning and maintenance is not carried out, it will eventually increase the odds associated with a fire breaking out.
The office is full with combustible materials and fire hazards.
Ranging from a simple built up dust, grease, and overloaded refuse areas, to built up dirt and poorly ventilated areas can cause machinery and equipment to become overwhelmed with heat which can lead to a fire.
A regular cleaning regime and ensuring work areas are at an optimal state is integral for reducing potential fire risks.
Actively encouraging employees to keep their working environments as clean and tidy as possible will help to mitigate the risk of a fire breaking out
- Combustible Materials
It goes without saying that if your workplace stores or uses flammable or combustible materials, that safety must be of prime importance for both employees and the management of those materials.
If a workplace is known to utilize combustible material then correct storage, disposal and handling processes must be highly regulated and safety must be considered paramount for all workers.
Proper education and training on handling combustible and flammable materials must be done regularly.
4. Human Error / Negligence
Another major reason for fires inside the workplace is basic human error.
This is typically because of incidents that were not intentional.
A number of things can happen in a variety of ways including cooking food in a staff area, spilling flammable liquids, improper use of machinery or equipment that overheats, and simple carelessness
Smoking in non-smoking areas.
One method to prevent these types of incidents from escalating is to ensure there’s plenty of suitable fire extinguishers located around the work area.
It’s also important that all employees are properly trained on how to use fire extinguishers and to regularly address and assess any potential risks in the workplace that could happen due to human error.
Sadly, there are plenty of opportunities for fires to start at work due to negligence and lack of care.
In an attempt to get a task done quicker, short cuts have been known to be taken where certain workers have chosen to ignore correct procedures to get the job done faster, which could indirectly cause a major fire and health and safety risk.
Example being the blocking of ventilation areas, stacking paper or card in a flammable area, misusing or improperly storing flammable or combustible materials, or overusing equipment or using equipment improperly.
To help avoid these known issues, it’s important to train your employees appropriately.
Business owners should conduct reviews, drills, retraining, and assessments at regular intervals to ensure proper workmanship and reduce any risk of fires in the future.