29 June 2021
Common Causes of Workplace Fires
In any workplace, there is always a risk of fire, but this can be mitigated with appropriate training and safety knowledge. The causes of workplace fires range from misplaced items to faulty equipment, and in this article the team at Fire & Security Group will detail some of the most common catalysts for workplace fires to help you identify and eliminate them.
Fires often start when people take a risk, either knowingly or unknowingly. Something like not putting a cigarette out properly, or plugging an extra appliance into a socket can cause a fire to start which can quickly get out of hand. A mistake that takes just a few seconds to commit can lead to incredible amounts of damage and a very real threat to life, and so it’s important that people are fully aware of their actions and good and bad practice.
One of the most effective ways of eliminating these kinds of errors is to provide fire safety training for all staff – whether your workplace is a restaurant or a school, fire safety knowledge is invaluable and it can bring an end to oversights and missteps.
Faulty Electrical Equipment
Electrical equipment undergoes very heavy usage on a daily basis, with some things being left on and running 24 hours a day. A faulty electrical appliance, whether it’s a plug socket or a fridge, can cause a fire – anything from an overloaded, overheating socket to sparks coming from damaged wires can lead to a blaze. Because they play such an important role in almost every building, building owners are legally required to ensure the electrical equipment is in safe, working condition at all times.
One of the best ways to maintain the safety and condition of any and all electrical equipment is through PAT testing – professional fire safety companies can carry out tests on each appliance, certifying whether or not they are safe to use. PAT testing isn’t a legal requirement, but it is very strongly recommended.
Unfortunately, arson poses a very real threat to businesses all over the world. While this is not the fault of the business, there are steps that can be taken to stop vandals from starting a potentially disastrous blaze. Firstly, it’s important that any and all combustible materials are kept in a secure location – bins are one of the most common targets for arsonists, so consider locking them in a separate refuse area.
At the very least, you should be making it as difficult as possible for unauthorised individuals to access the bins – even just storing them out of sight can help. Secondly, investing in security equipment such as perimeter fencing, access control systems and CCTV systems, will help to keep your property safe. A security fence will make it more difficult for intruders to get in, and CCTV provides a double benefit – the presence of the cameras can act as a deterrent, and if the intruder is still undeterred, the CCTV can make it much easier to catch them afterwards.
Believe it or not, clutter and mess can significantly increase the risk of fire in a workplace. Depending on the material and its location, it can be caught by a stray spark from a loose plug, which can escalate very quickly into a fire. Things like cardboard boxes, packing materials and other flammable items should be stored away from any heat sources to minimise the chances of fire.
Another potential issue with mess is that it can hamper the evacuation process. Boxes and other clutter left lying in corridors, in front of doors and in the middle of hallways can trip people up and cause bottlenecks which can slow people down and cause people to panic, which can be fatal in a fire emergency.
Lack of Reporting
If a fire hazard is spotted anywhere on the premises, a report should be made and the building owner, manager or person in charge of fire safety should be notified immediately. Leaving a fire hazard unchecked can literally be fatal, and so it’s important that staff know that they should report any fire hazards immediately.
When a fire hazard is reported, the next step is to seek professional assistance from a reputable fire safety company. They can advise you on the best course of action and install fire safety equipment such as fire alarms, extinguishers and fire doors.
No Fire Risk Assessments
Neglecting fire safety responsibilities is a fast-track to putting yourself and other people at risk. The ‘responsible person’ in the building must ensure that a fire risk assessment is carried out regularly in order to maintain a good standard of fire safety.
A fire risk assessment is a detailed inspection of all aspects of your workplace, including every appliance, storage safety, the layout of desks and staff, evacuation routes and more. The purpose of this assessment is to identify hazards, identify people at risk, and then evaluate and reduce those risks. A fire risk assessment will result in a detailed report on what needs to be changed, ensuring you can minimise risks and maximise safety.
There can be no room for shortcuts when it comes to fire safety. Some fire hazards are obvious – open flames, exposed cables and wiring, unattended cooking equipment – but others less so, and it’s important that each and every risk is identified so it can be reduced. Fire & Security Group are experienced providers of fire safety equipment, fire safety training and fire risk assessments for businesses across the UK – to make your business safer and to protect your staff and customers from fire, contact us today.