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Ideas to Help Ensure Fire Safety in the Workplace

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We witnessed in early August the horrific explosions in Beirut that killed at least 200 people with dozens more missing, injured 6000 people, has left 300,000 people homeless and had an estimate $10-$15 billion in damages. The blast is linked to 2700 tons of ammonium nitrate that was stored in the port without proper safety measures for six years. This should be a wake-up call at just how vulnerable your business could be.

National Fire Prevention Week, which is the second week in October, is a great time to review your company’s safety rules around fire safety. In most cases, workplace fires are caused by chemical interactions, sparks and human error of not paying attention to safety labels and the surrounding items in the work area. While some situations may not be in your control – for example, wildfires or arson – most are with some extra precautions.

Here are some ideas to keep in mind when preparing a fire safety plan:
• Identify fire risks, which can include but are not limited to cooking appliances, electrical wiring, overloaded power strips, heating appliances, arson, smoking materials -and if you work with chemicals or have chemicals in your workplace
• Assign at least one person or a team of people to oversee fire safety – tasks should include implementing and improving effective emergency procedures and having a fire safety checklist, conducting workplace walkthroughs to assess fire hazards and document/communicate those existing hazards to management, educate employees, and execute regular fire drills
• Pay particular attention to areas in the workplace that are considered fire prone, which are usually the kitchen area, common areas, and ceiling or attic areas – and for the space, make sure you have the right amount of fire extinguishers and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors (check them regularly to make sure they are in good shape)
• Take into account what your specific industry’s needs and special circumstances are when it comes to fire safety
• OSHA requires that employers do whatever is within their power to keep their employees safe, and educating your employees should always be a priority, so make sure you follow OSHA’s fire safety standards

With some extra precautions and proper protocol when it comes to fire safety and basic emergency responses, businesses can lessen the likelihood of a workplace fire.

Mr. Griffith has a received his bachelors degree in Environmental Health from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He is a Certified Industrial Hygienist and president of Workplace Safety & Health Company. He has over 35 years of industrial hygiene, safety, loss control and consulting experience. Chemical monitoring, noise measurement, program development and management, risk assessment and computer management of health and safety data are areas of particular strength. Mr. Griffith is a member of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) at the local and national level. He is also active in the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE).

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