On an average day, there are more than 200 workplace fires in the U.S. These fires kill hundreds of workers a year, injure thousands more, and cost American businesses billions in damage and lost productivity.
An effective workplace fire prevention program should include these 10 essential elements:
- Inspect all areas of your workplace for fire hazards on a regular basis. Pay particular attention to areas where fires are most likely to occur. More than half of all industrial fires break out in everyday workspaces, while a high percentage start in storage areas.
- Educate employees about fire hazards. Use bulletin boards, memos, and safety meetings to distribute fire prevention information. Update your training whenever new equipment or processes introduce new hazards.
- Have the right fire extinguishers. Have maintenance check extinguishers throughout your facility regularly to make sure they’re charged properly. If you expect employees to use extinguishers, OSHA requires that you train them to handle an extinguisher effectively.
- Store materials safely. Keep storage areas well ventilated and free of ignition sources. Be particularly careful with flammables
- Dispose of wastes promptly and correctly. Don’t allow combustible waste materials to build up. When disposing of other materials, consider the ease of ignition; For example, oily rags should be disposed of in closed metal containers.
- Emphasize good housekeeping. Ensure that all work areas are clean and free of fire hazards.
- Make sure ventilation systems operate effectively to remove flammable vapors, gases, and combustible dust.
- Service machines regularly. Set up and enforce an effective maintenance schedule.
- Pay attention to electrical safety. Check circuits, outlets, wires, and plugs regularly. If you allow employees to use coffeemakers, fans, and other appliances, require them to be used safely and turned off at the end of the shift.
- Enforce fire safety rules, to make sure that all employees follow these precautions.