5 Common Causes of Workplace Fires
Having a fire in the workplace is something every business should be prepared for. In 2017 there were 15,815 workplace fires, with the most common sectors affected being retail, industrial and bars, clubs and pubs.
Around ¼ of workplace fires are caused by faulty electrical equipment. Buying cheap products that have poor design and workmanship may mean there are multiple potential faults in the products. When buying the products ensure it has a CE logo, meaning the products conforms to health, environmental and safety standards set to be sold within the European Economic Area.
All electrical products must be maintained to a high standard, if there are any sign of faults or damages the product should be repaired as soon as possible. If the electrical items are unable to be repaired they should be safely disposed of.
The regular testing of electronic equipment should be part of the risk assessment and carried out regularly, PAT testing, although not a legal requirement is the easiest way to know if the electronics are compliant with regulations. The regularity of the PAT testing does change depending on the appliance, it is recommended to check in the leaflet look or search online for product specific recommendations.
Waste and Combustible Materials
Waste and combustible materials such as paper and cardboard do not start a fire by themselves, but they will add fuel to it which will cause it to grow and spread. The risk assessment should cover that the waste should not build up, and how to suitably discard of the waste. By emptying the bins regularly and ensuring appropriate storage of materials it can minimise the risk of a fire spreading.
Although smoking rates continue to drop in England around 14% of people in England engage in the activity. Despite only 14% of the population smoking, roughly a third of all fire related deaths are caused from smoking. In a business it is important to reduce the risk of fires as much as possible, and by law employers are required to display no smoking signs in the area of work and enforcing that nobody smokes on the premises. By being strict on the company policy and the law against smoking it should deter the activity of smoking and in turn reduce the risk of a fire starting.
45% of all fires are started by arson, and heightened security around business premises has been proven to reduce criminal activity in the area. The impact an arson attack could have on businesses could potentially mean it doesn’t recover, therefore investing in things like CCTV, and a security system can help. It is also vitally important that if any of the staff see anyone acting suspiciously, the police should be contacted.
Human beings have a reason for every decision we make, when we choose which escape route to use over another or to prop the fire door open, there is an explanation for it. Sometimes humans don’t always make the most logical decision due to emotions, and feelings etc that machinery and robots don’t have. Human error can be simple errors in judgement, not following the health and safety guidelines, and improper use of equipment etc. Human error can also be contributed to negligence by employers for not investing in resources and equipment. It is important to invest in health and safety training which can minimise the risk of human error by looking at risks and how to deal with them if they are to occur.