While working in a factory, construction business, or even in a normal corporate office with access to inflammatory materials, like a warehouse, etc. it’s likely that your employees need an ample amount of fire safety training, including learning about the guidelines on how to manage fire safety equipment and what to do in the case of a fire breaking out in the facility. Fire safety experts believe just a bit of knowledge and training can be the difference between the prevention or lack thereof in the spreading of an uncontrollable blaze.
For this reason, OSHA has stated a few necessary guidelines that every employer needs in order to implement a fire safety program at their workplace in order to keep the facility and its workers safe. In this blog, we’re going to put a highlight on those guidelines.
Guidelines for Fire Safety at the Workplace
Employer & Employee Responsibilities
Every employer needs to be prepared with an emergency preparedness plan in the situation of a fire breaking out. These plans should include guidelines on how to respond when a fire breaks out, fire department coordination, disabled people resources, evacuation, emergency communication alternatives, first aid options, etc.
Install the necessary equipment and perform regular checks to ensure they’re maintained and working properly in case of an emergency. You also need the proper protective equipment to ensure your employees are wearing the right gear and don’t end up getting hurt when working near flammable objects.
It’s important to train employees on how to work fire safety equipment and suppression systems so that they can operate these measures at the time of a fire and prevent it from spreading further. And ensuring this training is received by them is the employer’s job.
Awareness of Safety Procedures
It’s the responsibility of every employee at the workplace to stay informed and aware of safety procedures that they need to look into in case of emergencies. For this purpose, they need to be educated on the Emergency Preparedness Plan laid out by OSHA.
Employers also need to introduce emergency drills to train employees on what measures they can practically take during a fire breakout. And it’s also important to make employees participate in these drills even if they seem like an inconvenience because, at the end of the day, they’re only being done to keep the employees’ lives safe. It’s also important to lay down what options an employee can take during such a time, and at which moment they should stop trying to prevent the fire and try to escape from the location if it’s getting out of hand. So when practicing drills, you need to also understand the fight or flight response they need to be aware of.
The Role of Fire Safety Professionals
Respond to fire-related emergencies and provide immediate support and assistance.
Clear the building of every person, ensuring no one is stuck inside, and carry a thorough check.
Identify fire hazards and keep a record of equipment conditions while also working to maintain them in a proper shape.
Provide regular inspections and help employers implement fire safety policies in order to ensure fire hazards are under control.
Although it’s recommended you leave the job of these professionals to them, you may also get a few of your employees trained by the above-mentioned professionals and receive the appropriate certifications, so they can be designated to become fire marshals, etc. for your workplace. This will allow you to delegate responsibilities freely and effectively manage the workplace from any hazards.
Types of Fire & Ways to Stop Them
Wood, paper, trash, and other minor materials are known to cause this type of fire. They can and should be extinguished immediately by supplying a continuous stream of water onto the source.
The Class B materials consist of explosions occurring as a result of flammable gasses or liquids. They need to be extinguished by depleting the oxygen supply. Note that you can’t put out these fires with water, as it’ll just act as a stimulant to spread the fire instead of decreasing its strength.
This class consists of components that can cause electrical fires, and often occur in industries that have a high amount of electrical equipment. To extinguish them, you need to use non-conductive chemicals, i.e. CO2, etc.
Class D fires ignite combustible metals and need to be extinguished with dry powder agents, e.g. powdered copper or graphite powder. Just like Class B, you should never use water to extinguish these fires, as it’ll make the fire stronger by burning when in contact with certain metals.
Cooking fires, often seen in commercial buildings or restaurants, are Class K fires that are usually caused due to stoves, appliances, ovens, etc. They need to be put out with the use of fire extinguishers.
Use & Maintenance of Fire Safety Equipment
Extinguishers are more appropriate to be used against small fires, as they’re not very effective with bigger fires. It’s also important to replace or refill the extinguisher to ensure you’re ready for any instance where another fire threatens to break out. Every employee and employer should also learn about the PASS system that allows you to understand how you can use a fire extinguisher. They need to be stored in accessible areas in your workplace and checked on a regular basis to make sure they’re not malfunctioning.
Fire & Smoke Alarms
The workplace also needs to have smoke and fire detectors installed, and their batteries replaced after regular checks if they seem to not be working. Because even though the companies suggest they’ve lifelong batteries, you still can’t leave anything to chance.
Emergency and exit lights help you and your employees get safely out of the building in the case of a fire. They’re necessary to be installed in all commercial buildings for the safety of their residents. You need to first ensure that you have them installed in your workplace at appropriate intervals. Furthermore, you also need to make sure they’re working and illuminating properly so that they can be of help during emergency situations.
Being mindful of OSHA’s regulations of employee safety regarding fire and other hazards, Elite-Leather has always been equipped with training programs and certifications to ensure our facility and employees remain safe no matter the situation. We’ve conducted SEDEX to ensure all fire and health safety measures are taken care of. We’ve also been awarded Gold standards of safety from WRAP because of our due diligence observed in fire safety practices.
Even after implementing all of these measures, Elite’s management keeps regular checks and timely Inspections to hinder fire breakout and ensure proper training of employees according to ACT principles; which refers to Assessing the situation, Choosing your response, and Taking action. This includes identifying hazards, knowing how to keep their damage at a minimum if not avoid it altogether, and keep everyone around the workplace safer through these practices. If you need more information on this or workplace safety equipment, visit ELC.