Fire is a concern for many people and businesses. However, many do the bare minimum to protect their premises and employees, in an attempt to reduce costs or due to thinking a fire is unlikely to occur.
However, statistics from the UK Home Office suggest nobody is exempt, with over 150,000 fires attended by fire services in the year ending June 2020 with 243 fire related fatalities, of which 18% took place outside of the home, such as within the workplace. Fires can therefore happen to anyone and are most commonly caused by small hazards that could have been easily avoided.
Keep reading to discover the 11 most common fire hazards in the workplace, so you can carry out the necessary procedures to stop them from having the potential to start a fire.
- Faulty Electrical Equipment – Faulty electrical equipment is one of the most common causes of workplace fires. It’s important to check for any faulty or damaged plugs and wiring and replace these when necessary. Electric equipment should also be regularly checked and serviced to ensure it is all in working order and safe to use.
- Smoking – Smoking in and around the workplace can be extremely dangerous and therefore it is vital that specific smoking designated areas are set out and adhered to by all members of staff and visitors, as well as the installation of cigarette bins. Cigarettes that are not fully put out, especially near flammable objects, are very hazardous and can be the source of a full fire.
- Blocked Fire Exits – Having blocked fire exits within the workplace is very dangerous to the safety of your employees and others within the building. If a fire did occur, they could either be trapped within the building or it could significantly slow down the evacuation process that could result in serious injury or fatality.
- Overloading Power Sockets – Overloading a power socket is commonly done but more than often can result in an electrical fire. This is because when too many appliances are plugged into a socket or a faulty extension cable is used, it can result in overheating and possibly a fire. It is therefore important to make your employees aware to only use one plug per socket and to use the correct number of amps or watts for the socket.
- Build-Up of Dust – A build-up of dust is not only unhygienic but when it builds-up can result in explosions, especially in enclosed, small spaces with no ventilation. Therefore, in areas of potential dust and powder build-up from wood, plastics and metal, proper ventilation should be installed to reduce the hazard of dust in the air. Regular cleaning of a workplace should also take place to remove dust from electrical appliances that heat up, to reduce the risk of burning and fire.
- Flammable Liquids – Any flammable substance is a fire hazard, due to the speed in which it can ignite when in contact with a naked flame or spark. If your workplace holds flammable liquids or vapours then you must ensure that they are contained and sealed properly, with any spillages being cleaned up properly and quickly.
- Objects That Generate Heat – If you have objects or equipment that generates heat on-site, this could be a fire hazard in your workplace. Make sure that you follow the manufactures instructions on the placement of the object and to keep combustible materials, such as paper, away from the heat source. When not in use, remember to turn off and unplug the appliance from the power source.
- Waste & Combustible Materials On-Site – Many workplaces have a large amount of combustible and waste materials on-site, such as paper, wood and cardboard. However, these materials can act to fuel a fire and therefore it is important to avoid a build-up of these materials and to dispose of them appropriately to minimalise the risk of fire.
- Fire Doors Left Open – Fire doors are designed to contain a fire within one room if one was to start and therefore stop it spreading to other areas of the workplace. It is therefore important to keep fire doors closed at all times. Many individuals and workplaces are tempted to hold fire doors open for ease and ventilation purposes, but by doing this you are not only putting your site at risk but also people’s lives.
- Untested Fire Alarms – Regular testing of your fire alarms in a mandatory exercise for many businesses. Checking that your fire alarms are in working order is vital in the process of saving lives if a fire did occur in your workplace. The Fire Industry Association, within their BS 5839 standards, advises businesses to test their fire alarms weekly and to have them serviced every 6 months to prevent the risk of them not working in the event of a real fire.
- Human Error & Negligence – Human error and general negligence is a common fire hazard in the workplace.Although it can never be fully removed, it can be managed and reduced with the use of proper training and awareness. Common human errors and negligence that can result in a fire are; not using equipment properly, leaving cooking unattended and spilling liquids over electrical equipment.
There are therefore many common fire hazards in the workplace and depending on your business premises, there could be more. It is most likely that your business is required by law to have a fire risk assessment conducted, to help identify the risks to the site and individuals to make the overall workplace safer.
We carry out Fire Risk Assessments across multiple industries with our surveyors holding years of industry experience and are fully accredited to the Institute of Fire Engineers. We ensure that the plans recognise all fire safety features and meet the requirements of Fire and Rescue Services.
For more information or for a free quotation, please get in touch online here or by phoning us on 0330 094 7404.