A successful safety program in the workplace takes a collaborate effort among everyone. Fire safety, is no different.
Although workplace fire incidents remain relatively low, incidents like the April explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, remind us of the importance fire safety and training are to the workplace. The mystery behind the West, Texas fire that led to a massive explosion that took the life of 15 men and women is still to be determined. However, the steps to take to help avoid workplace fire incidents, is no mystery.
10 helpful fire prevention tips:
- Keep work areas free of clutter and unnecessary debris. Good housekeeping is essential to many aspects of your safety regiment and especially when it comes to the threat of fire hazards. Loose clutter can be the fuel for a fire and hamper the effort to put the fire out.
- Constantly check your electrical cords and outlets. Replace any damaged cords immediately and avoid laying them out where people can trip or walk over.
- Don’t become an electrician overnight! Report all potential electrical hazards immediately to the proper personnel so that a trained professional can fix the issue, without future issues. .
- Dispose of flammable materials properly and timely. Your workplace should have a designated procedure and area where flammable items can be disposed of without the threat of a fire hazard. This is only effective though, if everyone uses them accordingly.
- Never block fire sprinklers, smoke detectors, fire fighting equipment, or emergency exits. Observe proper clearance for each and follow them closely at all times.
- Keep heat producing machinery away from anything that could possibly catch on fire. This could be as simple as moving a coffee maker or copier away from paperwork or cardboard boxes.
- Always smoke in designated smoking areas. Avoid smoking in chemical storage areas and storerooms at all times. Be sure your smoking area is safe and in a well ventilated area.
- Everyone should be trained on how to use a fire extinguisher and when to use it based on the type of fire.
- Arson is a leading cause of occupational fire incidents. Help maintain building security, always lock up as instructed, and never leave trash or items outside the building that could potentially be lit on fire.
- Know your companies emergency procedures and you role in them. This includes taking fire drills seriously and attending safety meetings to stay up on any adjustments to your emergency procedures.
These suggestions can go along way in helping to prevent unnecessary fires within your workplace. It is also important to know and understand OSHA standards and procedures for fire safety.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is currently celebrating its 40th year in existence.Each year they publish a study on fire-loss in the U.S. The following are statistics from the 2011 study.
- 1,389,500 fires were responded to in 2011, an increase of 4.4%
- 485,500 of these fires were structure fires, a structure fire occurred at a rate of one every 65 seconds
- $11,659,000,000 in total damages as a result of these fires
- 3,005 civilian fatalities and 17,500 civilian fire injuries
- There was a civilian fire death every 208 minutes and a civilian fire injury every 30 minutes
- Fires accounted for 5% of the total emergency calls
- Every 23 seconds a fire department responds to a fire somewhere in the U.S.
- An estimated 26,500 fires in 2011 were intentionally set
We must become constantly alert to the threat of fires to ourselves, our children, and our homes. Fire is almost always the result of human carelessness. Each one of us must become aware–not for a single time, but for all the year–of what he or she can do to prevent fires.
President Richard M. Nixon
September 7, 1972
The previous statement by our former president was in response to a report commissioned by the National Commission on Fire Prevention and Control titled America Burning. This landmark report sent waves through the halls of D.C. and was instrumental in changing the perception of fire safety, and fire protection.
Although we have come along way since the report, we still have along ways to go in fire prevention. The U.S. still has a higher fire-death rate than many industrialized nations according the the 2007-2009 report by the Geneva Association’s Fire Statistics.
At work or at home fire safety and prevention is a personal responsibility. When taken serious, can be the difference in life or death, and be a positive influence to those around you. Take the time to review your fire precautions in your workplace and help us lower these alarming statistics.