Fire Safety at Work: What Your Employees Need to Know
How often do you talk about fire protection with your employees? Not often, right?
You’re not alone. And it’s easy to see why fire protection isn’t a part of the day-to-day conversation. After all, workplace fires are, fortunately, uncommon. When they do occur though, they can be fatal.
We believe that fire protection and awareness must become an everyday part of the working environment. That’s why we’re sharing a few things that all employees should know about fire safety.
What do your employees need to know?
Of course, there are some obvious things relating to personal safety that employees should know: which routes to use for evacuation, where to assemble, and their roles and responsibilities should a fire break out. However, there are also some important things to understand in terms of reducing risk and minimising impact & damage which are just as vital. Here are our top 5 things to think about:
- Primary risks
Employees should know what the risks are in the working environment. There are 3 things to consider:
- Ignition sources: open flames, heaters, cigarettes, cooking appliances, and anything that gets hot
- Fuel sources: materials such as fabrics, wood, paper, plastic, packaging, furniture, or rubbish
- Oxygen sources: Air conditioning, medical oxygen canisters, and even the air around us
It’s also a good idea to understand the most likely causes of workplace fires. According to the London Fire Brigade, the most common type of workplace fire is caused by electricity, accounting for just under a third of all office fires. Lighting contributes to 14% of workplace fires, and smoking to 11%.
- How to minimise risk
As well as knowing what the main risks are in the working environment, employees should also know how to reduce these risks. The key here is understanding how to avoid accidental fires. Risk reduction means:
- Keeping heaters away from flammable materials
- Practicing safe behaviours in kitchen environments
- Staying clean and organised to avoid a buildup of flammable waste
- PAT testing any personal electrical equipment used in the office
- Location of your risk assessment
If you employ more than 5 people, it’s a legal requirement to conduct a risk assessment, and keep a written copy where all employees can access it. It helps to keep a digital copy, too, which you can distribute to your team. Make sure everyone knows where they can find the document, as this will answer any questions they may have, such as:
- What are the risks?
- What are my responsibilities?
- What’s our plan for an emergency?
It gives everyone a chance to maintain their own fire knowledge.
- What fire protection equipment is in place – and where
Staff should know what systems are in place to reduce the spread of fire should an emergency occur. They should also know where these systems are located. Why? This enables them to keep an eye on the equipment and conduct quick visual checks to make sure systems do not have obvious signs of damage or tampering. Systems include smoke detectors, as well as dry & wet risers and sprinkler systems. Under the BS EN 12845 standard, sprinkler systems should be visually inspected every week.
Educate your workforce
Even if you don’t own the building you operate from, as an employer you have a responsibility to ensure you’re running a safe workplace. And the truth is that a safe working environment can only be achieved when everyone works together; when every employee understands the importance of fire protection.