Each year, thousands of industries fall victim to fires that cause damage beyond repair, leaving workers and the economy in disarray. While fires are preventable, it is not uncommon for fires to spark unexpectedly, taking no mercy on those who rely on the business.
According to the Department of Labor and Statistics, work related fatalities caused by fire and explosions were 21% higher in 2013 than in the previous year, with a total of 148 deaths. While this number does not seem significant against the number of people in the workforce, for those family members and the business itself, even one injury, let alone fatality, is one too many.
Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor stated, “Fires wreak havoc among workers and their families and destroy thousands of businesses each yea, putting people out of work and severely impacting their livelihoods. The human and financial toll underscores the serious nature of workplace fires.”
On average, it costs the industrial, corporate and retail markets of America an upwards of $2 billion each year from fire related damage in the workplace. It is a fact, fire in the work environment costs more and more people their job each year and often times, it is too time-consuming and costly to re-build the business. With an ever-changing and more challenging workforce, fewer jobs are available for those who suffer a devastating job loss from a fire.
- Flammable and combustible materials
- Faulty electric
- Compressed gasses
- Poor housekeeping
- Human negligence (i.e. smoking, spills, kitchen outlet overload, etc.)
The first step in protecting the lives and jobs of employees is by taking preventable measures towards eliminating the chances of a fire. OSHA has enforced a code of conduct related to preventing and handling fires. While not always required, OSHA urges companies to enforce a fire safety protocol. The guidelines for such a plan can be found at OSHA.Gov.
All businesses should check with an OSHA representative to be aware of the fire safety regulations and requirements.
Whether the business is big or small, preventing fires should be of paramount concern. Fire proofing your workplace can begin with these steps below.
We have heard it often enough in regards to de-cluttering our home environment, but this step is ever more crucial in the work environment. Clutter creates problems of accessibility to fire safety equipment and emergency fire exits. Clutter also serves as fuel to get a fire going.
Perform Maintenance to Machinery
Perform routine maintenance of machinery to avoid machines overheating or being over-worked. You can have a professional perform a minimum monthly check of the system.
Proper Storage and Disposals of Fire Starters
Dispose of fire starting material such as oily rags which can certainly cause a fire if not properly disposed of or contained in a covered metal container.
Store and use flammable chemicals correctly by referring to the storage and usage manual labels provided with the chemical. Make sure storage and usage ventilation is appropriate as well.
Easy Access to Electrical Panels
Electrical control panels should be easily accessible. Never block a control panel as this could slow down the shutting down of power when a situation arises.
When there are liquid vapors and fine particles present, use non-sparking equipment to maintain static electricity. This will prevent ignition that can result in an explosion.
Designated Smoking Areas
Keep personal smoking to designated areas. If need be, enforce reprimands if the smoking policy is not followed by all work personnel. These smoking permitted areas should always be outside and a safe distance from the building.
Proper Security Measures
To prevent the chance of arson occurring, hire a professional security team to supply 24/7 monitoring of the interior and exterior of the premise.
All emergency telephone numbers and a map of fire exits should be posted throughout the building. Employees should also receive a copy as well.
Make Sure fire Equipment is Working
Should a fire occur, make sure all sprinklers and hose hook-ups are clear of debris. Firefighters will need to access these systems quickly. It is also wise the train all staff on the use of a fire extinguisher.
If you suspect your fire alarm system is faulty or has stopped working altogether, take action immediately to have the system repaired or replaced. Ignoring an issue that could result in a fire can almost always lead to a fire outbreak. The lives and livelihood of all employed are at stake.
Life Safety stocks fire alarm and fire system replacement parts. You can contact us for help in detecting the problem as well as determining what parts would be needed.