The last thing you want to experience in your workplace is a fire. Here’s all the office fire safety tips, how to prevent it, and what to do if a fire happens.
Did you know that around 6,000 office fires happen each year in the United States? They almost always start by accident and are preventable.
Many businesses can’t reopen after a fire because of the damage and cost of repairs.
Not to mention the effects an office fire has on your employees. As the employer, it’s your job to make sure the office is safe and free from fire hazards. Can your employees trust you?
Luckily, preventing a fire in your office is simple and straightforward. Keep reading for office fire safety tips to keep your workplace, and your employees, safe.
The key to putting out a fire is knowing there’s a fire in the first place. Office fires sometimes occur in small spaces with clutter and trash. Odds are, you won’t see it until it’s too late.
It’s crucial your fire alarms are working and turned on. They need to be very sensitive and detect the first signs of smoke.
You can test them yourself or ask the fire department to send someone to check on them. It’s also important to check that your fire sprinklers are working. Read more here about the different types of sprinkler systems.
Do you and your employees know how to use a fire extinguisher? If not, a small convection oven fire can turn into a serious problem.
Make this a part of your new employee training. Include fire extinguisher instructions in your annual training for everyone.
You also need to ensure your office’s fire extinguishers are in easy to reach locations. They should be functional and in working order.
In the case of an office fire, your employees need a clear understanding of what to do. Start by creating a safety route for them to follow.
You should never take the elevator in the case of a fire. So, map out the closest exit and fastest way to get outside. Then, print that out onto a diagram.
This printout should be visible to everyone in the office. They should also confirm that they understand the route. It’s everyone’s responsibility to keep routes clear from obstacles and clutter.
Making sure all fire safety equipment is working is a lot of work. You, as the business owner, likely don’t have time to do this every month.
Consider making one of your employees a safety officer. Adding this duty to their role can earn them a bonus or raise. It’s also a hefty title they can put on their resume.
The duties of the safety officer include:
- Performing risk assessments of the office
- Updating the fire evacuation plan
- Performing fire drills
This person is also going to be the fire evacuation leader. They need to organize the employees and make sure everyone gets out swiftly.
The employee you appoint as safety officer will need extra training. But, it’s well worth the investment to keep your staff and office safe.
Most offices have equipment for various tasks, like photocopiers and scanners. These simple machines can lead to a damaging fire if their cords aren’t checked.
Electrical cords are a common cause of office fires. We forget about them because they’re out of site. Checking all electrical cords could be a duty for the safety officer.
If they do find a cord that has fraying or damage, they need to report it right away. It’s your job to fix or replace that machine.
You can also prevent electrical fires by unplugging all machines for the weekend. Follow the manufacturer’s suggestions for voltage on each machine.
Something as simple as flicking the ash from a cigarette can cause a devastating fire. It’s crucial you create a smoking area far from the office building.
You should also install an outdoor ashtray for the cigarette ashes. In your training manual, discuss the importance of not flicking ashes onto the ground.
And, of course, enforce the no smoking indoors rule.
We don’t always pay attention to cautions until we’re in the real situation. This is true for employees who hear about health and safety all year round.
It’s important to practice fire drills so that their muscle memory knows what to do in a fire. They might panic and get scared, but practicing the evacuation route before makes it easier.
Let your employees know in advance when the fire drill will happen. Tell them they must participate and take it seriously. Lead by example and take it seriously yourself.
This is a chance for your safety officer to practice leading everyone. It may seem unneeded at the moment, but if a fire occurs, you’ll be happy you practiced.
Knowledge is key to prevention and safe evacuation. If your employees don’t know what activity could cause a fire, they won’t know to avoid it. Without drills and a fire plan, they won’t know what to do when a real fire occurs.
Make fire training a part of new employee training, and annual health and safety. The safety officer needs extra training, but if other employees also want to take part, let them.
Teach all employees how to safely label flammable substances. And, how to use electrical equipment. As their boss, it’s your job to make sure everyone knows about fire safety.
Fires happen far too often in office settings. There’s electrical equipment, clutter, and smoking areas that all create fire hazards. Without the right knowledge, you and your staff won’t know what to do in case of a fire.
You can prevent this by learning about fire prevention and teaching your employees. Implement the eight office fire safety tips above to prevent a fire and know what to do if one occurs.
It’s important that you and your employees take care of your health. That’s the best way to get many happy years from your employees. To learn more about health, safety, and fitness, check out the health blog section!