Workplace fire safety and prevention techniques should be communicated company-wide. Do your employees know what to do when an emergency strikes?
When you were a child in school, you were likely startled more than once by the building’s fire alarm, which signaled the start of a fire drill. Every few months, you and your classmates would quickly and quietly file out of the school and rehearse what you would need to do in the event of a real fire emergency. Who could forget the infamous “stop, drop, and roll” lesson? Are the same procedures followed for workplace fire safety, or does your company simply hope that all staff know what to do in an emergency?
Prioritizing workplace fire safety
Not all businesses are required by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) to develop fire prevention plans, but you may want to anyway. Strategies for fire safety that you can put in your plan and share with employees include:
- Identifying potential hazards – If you work in an office or industry that deals with flammable materials regularly, these are the obvious hazards all workers should be aware of. However, it’s often the situations where fire is not considered to be an immediate threat that result in carelessness and accidents. For example, heat-producing equipment like copiers or coffee makers are often overlooked; make sure employees know to keep these machines away from anything that can burn. Walk through your building with employees and don’t just point out the hazards—ask them to keep an eye out for dangers, as well. Look for electrical appliances, cords, plugs, and combustible material.
- Creating an evacuation plan – Accidents happen, and while you can plan endlessly, there are still unknown events that can cause fires in the workplace. A workplace fire can be crippling to a business, but don’t let it become a tragedy as well because one or more of your workers couldn’t find their way out to safety. Go back to your school days and run regular fire drills. Distribute maps of the property to each worker so they can see where their desk is in relation to emergency exits. Establish a meeting place outside of the building where all employees can congregate for a head count.
- Teaching employees how to use a fire extinguisher – Sometimes a small fire can be controlled and put out with the use of a portable fire extinguisher. Many of your workers have probably never had to use a fire extinguisher before and may second-guess themselves if they need to use one in an emergency. Hold a company-wide training session to teach workers how to use a fire extinguisher safely, and make sure everyone knows where the extinguishers are located in the building.
- Educating employees about all workplace fire safety features – Another helpful walk-through to do involves pointing out the building’s fire safety features. Show employees where they will find manual pull alarms, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, sprinklers, fire doors, and exit doors/stairwells. It’s one thing to tell employees about these safety features, but it’s another to actually show them and empower them when it comes to fire prevention.
A little preparation could save your employees and your business
Remember to treat every single fire alarm in your building as though it is a real emergency and tell your employees the same. As soon as that alarm goes off, call 911 and get out of the building. Yes, it may be a false alarm or equipment malfunction, but what if it’s real? You definitely don’t want anyone stuck inside.
By prioritizing workplace fire safety and providing your employees with strategies to stay safe, you may just save a life—or even your entire company.
What do you think is the most overlooked fire hazard in the workplace? Share your thoughts in the comments below!