The majority of workplaces have all the components that can cause the outbreak of a fire. Fires can quickly cause significant damage to property, as well as injury to employees on site or even worse. Thousands of fires occur in the workplace in the UK every year, with various causes. We look at the most common fire hazards amongst the workplace, and how to reduce these risks.
1 – Waste/combustible material
Many commercial buildings have a build-up of combustible waste materials such as paper and cardboard. When these materials are incorrectly disposed, or even ignored altogether, they can provide the perfect fuel for fire if it breaks out. Storing these combustible materials in just one place, can have a devastating effect on any workplace.
Having a clear disposal plan in place can reduce risk. This will ensure that any rubbish stored is kept in a locked area away from main buildings and any potential sources of ignition.
2 – Flammable liquids
Whilst the volume of flammable liquids (such as cleaning fluids) varies between workplaces, even the smallest volume can pose a huge fire risk if stored incorrectly. Flammable liquids can ignite at the smallest contact with a source of ignition.
To minimise risk, keep all flammable liquids separate by storing them in a lockable ventilated cabinet. This ensures they’re stored well away from any potential fire hazard.
3 – Dust
Surprisingly, dust is one of the biggest causes of fire in workplaces without proper ventilation. Dust build-up from wood, plastic, and other materials used in the workplace gathers in equipment and machinery, potentially causing it to have faults, or even cause explosions.
To protect your site, any machinery that may heat up during use must be free of dust and grime. It’s also prudent to install adequate extraction fans in environments in which dust is likely to be in the air, such as factories and warehouses.
4 – Heat Generating Objects
Electrical equipment and machinery can overheat and start a fire. Keeping combustible materials nearby creates even more of a risk. Whether it’s an office computer or large factory machinery, a potential fire risk is for equipment to overheat from excessive use and spark – which could ignite a fire if near combustible materials.
Reduce risk by keeping equipment away from these materials. Also don’t leave equipment on overnight unless absolutely necessary, or unplug completely.
5 – Human Error
One of the most common causes of fire within the workplace is simple human error. Untrained staff can easily place combustible materials in the wrong place without realising it poses a fire hazard. Whilst it’s difficult to completely remove the risk of human error, fire safety training can greatly help in educating your employees on the correct procedures whilst in the workplace.
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