To coincide with Business Safety Week, 6th-12th September, our latest blog gives you 10 top tips on how to keep your employees and your business fire safe.
- Carry out thorough fire risk assessments
You can’t effectively safeguard against fire if you’re not fully aware of the hazards in your workspace and the risks they pose. So, before you begin implementing fire safety control measures, have a fire risk assessment of the workplace carried out by a competent person (who has both the qualifications and suitable experience).
For businesses with more than five employees, risk assessments are a legal requirement, but they’re also hugely important for protecting your business from harm.
Risk assessments should identify fire hazards — what could cause a fire to start? Then they should assess the level of risk posed, consider who could be affected, and how fire risks can be mitigated. Control measures can then be implemented proportionately to the level of risk. To ensure long-term fire safety in the workplace, it’s important to review and potentially revise risk assessments regularly.
- Have an evacuation strategy
Every business should have an evacuation strategy to make it safer and more efficient for employees and customers to exit the building during a fire.
Communicate your plan with others in your organization and post evacuation maps near stairwells and main walkways for easy access.
- Maintain your fire safety equipment
Fire safety equipment such as smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and sprinklers should be inspected and serviced regularly. Any faulty equipment should be replaced right away. Store equipment in an easily accessible area that’s free from clutter.
Keep up with routine maintenance by setting a calendar reminder or designate a time of year to schedule both formal inspections and independent upkeep. For example, many people use daylight savings time as a reminder to change the batteries in their smoke detectors.
- Train your staff
You should have at least one fire warden in your workplace and always enough to allow you to carry out fire drills allowing for holiday cover. Fire wardens are members of staff who are responsible for taking control of creating and maintaining fire safety procedures. In the event of a fire, they will also need to coordinate evacuation and check no one remains in the building.
Fire wardens will need to undergo fire warden training. After training, they should know exactly how to maintain fire safety. If a fire breaks out, they’ll know what to do to minimise risk and keep employees and customers safe.
- Keep your workplace clean & tidy
Untidy workplaces contain more health and safety hazards than clean and tidy ones, and many of these hazards are related to fire safety. With more clutter around the workplace, the “fire load” of the area or building increases. In other words, more items in the workplace can catch and fuel fire. Cluttered areas can also prevent swift evacuation, so it’s important to make sure corridors, stairs and fire exits are cleared of any combustibles.
- Conduct routine fire drills
Panicking during an emergency can have dire consequences. Help familiarize your employees with your emergency action plan by practicing fire drills a few times a year.
Routine drills can help employees respond to a fire quickly and calmly. Your employees will be better equipped to guide themselves, and others, from your building if they know where to go. Consider having unannounced fire drills to measure the readiness of your staff and address any underlying concerns. Make sure it’s taken seriously.
- Don’t forget your electrics!
Electrical hazards are common causes of workplace fires. Overloaded outlets, defective wiring and overheated equipment are just a few of the many electrical fire threats businesses face. Encourage employees to speak up if they notice electrical hazards, such as frayed wiring. If repairs are needed, make sure it’s done by a qualified electrician.
- Know your extinguishers
Make sure everyone in charge of fire safety understand the different types of fire extinguishers available. You should have ones most suitable for your fire risk, e.g. carbon dioxide extinguishers in offices. Store them in appropriate places and ensure there is a sufficient amount. This information should be given during any fire warden training too.
- Install emergency lighting
All emergency routes and exits must be well lit. Include lighting at each door, corridor, change of direction and floor level, staircase, and next to fire-fighting equipment and alarms. Be sure to test emergency lighting regularly.
- Check your safety signs
Are they clear and suitable for those with poor vision or whose first language is not English? All fire safety signs should contain pictures so anyone can understand them at a glance. Ensure they are well lit so they can be seen in an emergency, even if the power goes out.
If you would like more information on how ProFire can help keep your business safe, including fire risk assessments and staff training, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org