Workplace accidents cause thousands of employee injuries and numerous deaths each year. Common causes of these injuries are fires and explosions. Electrical mishaps, poorly trained workers, lack of safety gear, dangerous premises and hazardous work conditions all contribute to fires and burn injuries in the workplace. Whether you are an employer or employee, the power to prevent work fires can rest with you. While it is ultimately the employer’s legal responsibility to maintain a safe work environment, workers can also participate in proper fire safety.
Eliminate Excess Waste
Keeping a premises fire-safe requires eliminating potential sources of kindling lying around the warehouse or office. A workplace should not have trash, debris, waste, extra materials, oil-soaked rags or paper lying on the ground or congesting walkways. Any flammable materials should have safe storage spaces that all employees use to keep the workplace free from dangerous clutter. Waste and debris should go into covered metal trash bins that someone empties regularly. A clean, debris-free workplace is less likely to experience a deadly fire than one with tinder lying around.
Properly Maintain Equipment
Old, damaged and malfunctioning machinery and equipment are fire hazards. Damaged electrical cords, for example, could cast a spark that causes a major workplace fire. Damaged or defective equipment could also cause a deadly explosion. Employers and employees should inspect the workplace regularly for old or worn-out equipment. The company should invest in proper inspections, repairs and replacements to help mitigate fire risks. Employees should dust off equipment and wipe away excess grease daily. If an employee notices something amiss with a power tool or piece of equipment, he or she must report the issue immediately.
If you are an employer, supervisor, manager or team leader, encourage communication among employees. Urge people to come forward with ideas for how to make the workplace safer, as well as to report complaints about potential safety violations or fire hazards. If employees are too afraid of retaliation to say anything about a fire risk, disasters can occur. If you are an employee that notices something dangerous, know it is against the law for your boss to retaliate against you for filing a complaint or even taking the matter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Say something if you see a fire risk.
Do Not Use Open Flames
Having open flames in a workplace is a recipe for fires and explosions. Avoid using any sources of open flames while at work, including candles, lighters, matches and blowtorches. As an employer, enforce a strict no open flame policy in the workplace. If your job description involves the use of open flames, obey all workplace safety regulations exactly. Never cut corners or break the rules in the name of saving time or energy around an open flame or another fire hazard.
Prepare for Disaster
Everyone at work should be on the same page about fire prevention. An employer should institute fire prevention and preparation protocols, including smoke detectors, a sprinkler system, a fire alarm and an evacuation plan. Prompt response to a fire emergency could save lives. Employees should know the quickest evacuation route from where they are in the building and to use the stairs, not elevators.
Employers should offer regularly updated training on how to properly respond to fires, explosions and burn injuries. Employees and supervisors should also know how to handle burn injuries effectively until getting the victim to the hospital. The four different types of burns – thermal, electrical, chemical and radiation – require different responses. Different degrees of burn injuries also require different medical care. Everyone in the workplace should receive training on how to prevent fires, respond to emergencies and react to burn injuries for optimal work fire safety.