Fires are a preventable catastrophe that can cause hundreds of thousands of dollars damage, loss of production, loss of jobs and loss of lives.
When harnessed properly, fire can be one of our greatest allies in the workplace, a more than useful partner of industry. When it’s uncontrolled however, it can become our worst and most feared enemy.
Thus, everyone has a vested interest in the prevention of fires in the workplace.
There are many simple things that you as a worker can do to minimise the risk of fire in the workplace. Here are some simple safety reminders:
1. Practise good housekeeping. Waste and clutter can provide a good source of fuel for fire. Look after your own work area and making sure you keep it clean and free from waste.
2. Don’t over store products in your area. In particular avoid blocking sprinklers, fire fighting equipment and emergency exits.
3. Never store flammables such as oily or solvent soaked rags. They should be placed in a covered metal container and disposed of on a regular basis.
4. Observe “no smoking” signs. Smoking should only take place in designated areas and cigarettes disposed of in the bins provided.
5. Know the location of fire fighting equipment in your workplace.
6. Use and store chemicals safely. Read the label and Safety Data Sheet to determine flammability and other fire hazards.
7. Keep electrical fittings in good order, and report any electrical hazards. A common cause of fire is faulty electrical equipment. It’s also wise to avoid using adaptors and long electrical leads if possible.
8. Be prepared in the event of an emergency. Ensure emergency phone numbers and other details are accessible and close by the telephone should an emergency occur.
9. Keep combustible materials clear when cutting or welding.
10. Know how to use a fire extinguisher properly. You should also familiarise yourself with the different classes of fire, and which extinguishers are suitable for each type of fire.
Familiarisation is super important. Since a fire can become out of control within a few seconds, there’s no use in having a ‘rough idea’ of what should happen.
So you should be very clear on your organisation’s evacuation procedures and fire fighting steps right away… you won’t have time during a fire to start reading instructions!
In the even of an emergency, it is important that you remain calm, assess the situation, raise the alarm, call the fire brigade, assist anybody in immediate danger (only if it is safe to do so), and then evacuate the area.
Finally, if you are attempting to extinguish a fire, always keep a clear line of escape – nothing is worth the cost of a human life.
For more information on fire safety training, click here.