Your Role in Preventing Workplace Fires
It’s wildfire season in California once again,. But when it comes to fires in the workplace, there is no season – workplace fires happen all year round. The potential for fire is present in any workplace. If you are aware of the causes and conditions, if you are prepared, and if you think before you act, the risk of a workplace fire can be minimized.
Following good housekeeping practices is crucial to fire prevention.
- Keep heating and electrical equipment clean, clear, and in good repair.
- Maintain machinery to prevent overheating and friction sparks.
- Clean ducts and fume hood filters regularly.
- Use and store chemicals safely.
- Read the label and safety materials.
- Place oily rags in a covered metal container.
- Provide adequate ventilation when using and storing these substances.
- Take precautions to prevent ignition in potentially explosive atmospheres, such as those containing flammable liquid vapors or fine particles.
- Clear the clutter, which contributes to fires by:
- Providing fuel. Keep paper products, aerosols, and other flammable materials and liquids away from heat sources.
- Preventing access to emergency equipment,exits or escape routes. Never block sprinklers, and watch clearances when stacking materials.
- Watch your butts! Never smoke in storerooms or chemical storage areas. Smoke only in designated areas, and extinguish smoking materials safely—especially if outside.
The Power to Prevent Fires
To avoid electrically-caused fires:
- Check, replace or have professionally fixed any appliance with frayed or loose cords and wires, or cords that get hot during use.
- Report electrical hazards. Many fires start in faulty wiring and malfunctioning electrical equipment.
- Avoid running cords or wires under rugs and carpets or near a heat source; keep them out of doorways where they can become worn.
- Maintain free access to all electrical control panels. Material or equipment blocking the panels would slow down power shut down in an emergency situation.
Tools and Training
Have a clear idea what to do in case a fire does occur.
- Know where fire extinguishers are located and how to properly use them. Learn which extinguishers to use for the specific types of fire.
- Besides training in fire prevention and protection, make sure you understand company emergency communication and evacuation procedures.
- Take fire drills seriously. They are designed to save lives and property in case of the real thing.
- Know the location of fire alarms and the telephone numbers for emergency response personnel.
- Report a fire, even if it seems minor. Firefighters would rather arrive and find nothing, than be called after it’s too late to save people or property.
Keep in mind that all workers are responsible for preventing fires. In addition to injury and loss of life, a serious fire could close down your workplace and lead to job losses. Don’t let a fire threaten you, your co-workers and your job. Work safely to prevent fires, and know what to do if one occurs. For more information on workplace fires, including an informative list of safety topics and hazard checklists, visit our Safety Resource Center.