Smokey the Bear used to say, “Only you can prevent forest fires.” With the same commitment, you can prevent a fire in the workplace with a bit of planning and some fundamental preventative measures. Planning ahead and pinpointing potentially hazardous conditions are key aspects of fire safety.
Regardless of the size of your business it is good practice to have an emergency action plan in place. This can be in the form of a written document, posted placards, or one that is verbally relayed to all employees on a regular basis. The recommended minimum is twice a year.
Pre-planning and prevention go hand-in-hand when referring to fire safety. Take a walk outside and inside your business to conduct a hazard assessment. Do this with an open mind and open eyes. Note the hazards and ease of rectifying them. For example, are all exits front and back clear and easily accessible or are obstacles blocking them? Keep in mind points of egress are not only used by people inside the location trying to get out, but by the First Responders trying to get in.
If you have fire extinguishers onsite, do you train your employees how to use them? An easy way to recall how to use an extinguisher and instruct someone else is by remembering the acronym PASS:
- Point/Pull Pin
- Aim at the base of the flames
- Squeeze handle
- Sweep the extinguisher back and forth while advancing on the fire. (Advance only if the fire is small and contained.)
Typical extinguishers are designed to handle small fires and should only be used by people with adequate training. Always call 911. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
When thinking about fire prevention:
- Assess your flammable materials situation. Properly store flammable materials and dispose of flammable waste materials properly.
- Consider posting safety guidelines for working in proximity to possible ignition sources, such as smoking, welding, and burning.
- Adhere to the proper cleaning and maintenance of heat producing equipment such as burners, boilers, ovens, stoves, and fryers. Make sure flammables are properly stored away from this equipment.
Even if you are not specifically required to do so, compiling an emergency plan is a good way to protect yourself, your employees, and your business during an emergency.
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Contributed by: Clay Scanlan, Calico’s Customer Service Manager, and a volunteer firefighter in South Farmingdale, NY.