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Ways to Improve Fire Safety in the Workplace

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October is Fire Prevention Month, and specifically the week of October 9th is the 100th anniversary of Fire Prevention Week. This year’s campaign is “Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape,” which is incredibly critical as you may only have as little as two minutes to safely escape your home or business from the time the smoke alarms sound.

Besides having a planned fire escape and educating your employees on what that plan is at least on an annual basis, let’s take a look at ways to improve fire safety in the workplace as most workplace fires can be avoided with a few extra precautions.

Identify Risks in the Workplace – taking a look at your building, facility or site to see if there are any unique risks and understanding how to avoid a fire or at least mitigate the impact. The most common causes of workplace fires include such things as cooking appliances, electrical wiring, overloaded power strips, and many others. Also keeping in mind minimizing the risk of those items that produce the most damage – ie. loose paper and flammable materials. Some of those risks you may be able to remove completely, but most are just part of the work environment, so take steps to educate employees and keeping an eye on those critical fire-prone areas.

Assign Fire Safety Roles – designating at least one person, but preferably a team of people, to oversee fire safety. Many times this role is given to either your office manager, facility manager, safety manager or human resources manager.

Understanding Your Industry’s Specific Needs – when it comes to fire safety, every business will have specific industry considerations, including what type of fire risks and if a specialized fire extinguisher is needed, or in the case of such a place as a hospital, an evacuation plan that includes how to get staff and patients out safely and quickly.

Educate, Educate, Educate on Fire Safety Guidelines – businesses have a legal and moral responsibility to keep their employees safe, and one very important step is to make sure employees are trained on fire prevention and safety. Every organization should have a fire prevention plan that is posted and made available for all employees to review. October is a great time to do annual inspections and fire drills, but best practice is not to only do these once a year. Unexpected fire drills are a great way to access if your employees know what to do in case of a fire.

Workplace Safety and Health is here to help you maintain a safe work environment. Give us a call at 317-253-9737.

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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