National Fire Prevention Month is recognized each October, and this year, we want to raise awareness about the importance of fire safety at work and provide tips for a safe, fire-free environment.
Doherty Staffing Solutions values the safety and well-being of our employees, clients, and workforce, which is why we regularly share safety tips to help keep every individual we work with safe. In this article, we will cover the prevalence of office fires, what causes fire hazards in the workplace, and what you can do to keep fires from occurring.
Fires in the Workplace
Every year, there are thousands of fires that occur in US businesses. In fact, in 2020, there were 16,500 office and store fires in the United States that caused over 900 million dollars of direct property damage. Workplace fires can be devastating for a variety of reasons, as they have the potential to cause property damage, injuries and deaths, job losses, and a negative impact on the surrounding community, as they may lose a vital service provided by businesses.
The widespread damage that workplace fires can cause is why it is critical for everyone who works in an office building to be aware of fire hazards and what they can do to prevent them. Prevention is key for fire safety to avoid injury and property damages that can be extremely costly.
There are many ways that fires can start in the workplace. It’s important to keep these hazards top-of-mind so that you can do your part in preventing fires from occurring. The following fire hazards are some of the most common ones that occur in the workplace.
- Electronics: Electronic equipment and wiring are some of the most common causes of office fires. Bad habits such as overloading circuits and using damaged or faulty equipment can cause overheated equipment and sparking, which, in turn, can cause fires.
- Flammable materials: Workplaces that handle flammable materials are at an increased risk of a fire occurring. Flammable gasses, liquids, or even cleaning supplies can cause a hazard if not handled with care.
- Improper Storage and Messy Workspaces: Areas that are dirty with dust and debris or have extra paper and clutter can fuel the flames if a fire starts.
- Heating Units: Furnaces and space heaters can malfunction and cause a fire if they are not properly maintained. Space heaters can tip over or overheat and cause a fire if left unattended.
- Cooking Appliances: Cooking appliances are another leading cause of office fires. Microwaves, toasters, ovens, and stoves can easily cause fires if food begins to burn and is not dealt with promptly.
- Inadequate Fire Safety Equipment/Preparedness: Lastly, blocked fire exits, lack of safety equipment (fire alarms, fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems), and not having a preparedness plan can cause fires that occur to have horrific outcomes that could have otherwise been avoided.
Next, we will cover specific tips and best practices for office fire safety.
Workplace Fire Prevention Tips
The following tips are best practices that should be followed by all employees to help prevent office fires from occurring.
Equipment and Appliances:
- Leave space for air to circulate around heaters and other heat-producing equipment, such as copy machines, coffeemakers, and computers.
- Keep appliances away from anything that might catch fire.
- Do not stack books or papers on top of appliances or monitors.
- Designate an employee to turn off or unplug all appliances, including coffeemakers and hot plates, at the end of each work day.
- Use extra caution when handling any flammable material, and do not handle this material unless you are authorized to do so.
- Make sure to properly store flammable materials and clean spills as soon as they happen.
- Keep clutter out of halls, lobbies, alleys, and other public areas.
- Keep waste paper, empty boxes, dirty rags, cleaning supplies, and other combustibles out of exits, storage areas, and stairways.
- Replace any cracked, frayed, or damaged electrical cord.
- Never run extension cords across doorways or where they can be stepped on, pinched, or run over by chairs or other furniture.
- Do not plug extension cords into each other, and avoid plugging more than one extension cord into an outlet.
- Be sure to use an appropriate extension cord for the appliance being used.
- Follow your building’s security measures and keep unauthorized people out of the building.
- Keep doors locked after business hours.
- Make sure alleys, parking lots, and other areas around your building are well-lit.
In addition to these tips for preventing fires, it is important to understand the proper course of action if a fire does occur. Employers should train employees on what to do in case of an emergency and where the nearest fire exit is in their corresponding work areas. Additionally, it is good to know where the nearest fire extinguisher and fire alarm are located.
We hope that this article has been helpful in learning more about the prevalence of fire incidents in the workplace and what you can do to prevent fires from occurring.
Doherty Staffing Solutions is your local employment expert, and we offer other valuable insights and workforce solutions to help propel your business forward. Get connected with us today!