Is your office fire safe? Workplace fires are surprisingly common in the UK, with around 22,000 taking place each year – or 423 every single week.
While the cost of these fires can’t be quantified, fires can put businesses at risk of lost investment through the destruction of equipment, machinery, and premises. And if employees are harmed due to a fire, the effects on their lives and those of their dependents can be severe. What’s more, businesses at fault due to not following regulations dictating fire safety procedures can open themselves up to expensive litigation which can put business continuity at severe risk.
To help you ensure your staff and business aren’t put in harm’s way, we’ve brought together five of the most common types of office fire hazards, plus details on how to avoid them.
Sockets and cables
Old or unregulated cables can pose a risk of overheating and causing a fire. To avoid the risk, make sure to regularly check your power sockets and cables and have them checked by an electrician. If you need to replace equipment, use protected power cords for your devices to reduce the chance of an electrical fire occurring in the first place.
Many fires in offices are caused by human error while using cooking equipment. Employees might mistakenly leave food in the oven or microwave unattended, or if gas cooking is available, human error might result in cooking oil fires.
Cooking equipment can be dangerous, so make sure all employees attend their food while it is heating in the office and provide training on how to use equipment properly. Placing the correct types of fire extinguishing equipment within cooking areas is also crucial.
You should test equipment regularly in line with PAT (portable appliance testing) to ensure it is not a fire hazard. Similarly, provide employees with the ability to report any faulty wiring or otherwise malfunctioning equipment to the person managing your office, thereby allowing any hazards to be rapidly fixe or replaced.
Portable heaters can gather dust over time and are commonly left unattended. Over time, this can create a fire risk. If possible, remove all portable element or has heaters from your office and use central heating instead. If they must be used, then train staff on how to effectively use and maintain heaters and put in place working processes that ensure said equipment is never left unattended while switched on.
Poorly stored fuel supplies
Depending on your site, there may be fuel supplies located in or near to the workplace, such as fuel oil, wood, or compressed gas. Gain the insight of a fire safety expert to ensure these are all safely stored, and train staff to identify hazards and report them so hazards can be quickly dealt with.
Keeping your office or workplace free from fire is incredibly important. With the insights above, and the help of experts in fire safety, you can make sure everyone, and your business, is kept safe.