Safety Tip: Workplace Fire Safety for Employees and Employers

Fire / Emergency, Safety Tips

Fires and explosions caused 143 workplace fatalities in 2011, in addition to damage and loss of business equipment and buildings. These are good reasons every business needs a fire prevention plan. Here are some workplace fire safety tips:

Employees:

Employees can take these important steps to help improve workplace fire safety:

  • Make sure all walk ways and corridors are kept clear to allow easy emergency access.
  • Use and maintain wiring, tools and equipment correctly. Keep everything oil- and dust-free.
  • Uncoil extension cords fully before use and use extension cords only for temporary wiring.
  • Do not use equipment that delivers a mild electrical shock, gives off unusual heat or smells odd.
  • Keep workspaces free of waste paper, scraps, dust and other combustibles.
  • Do not use electrical equipment when flammable gases, vapors, liquids, dust or fibers are present.
  • Ensure trash is emptied frequently enough to prohibit a buildup of combustibles in an area.
  • Make sure you know who to call in an emergency; participate in all drills.
  • Report all fires and emergencies promptly.

Employers:

If you employ 10 or fewer employees, OSHA does not require your fire prevention plan to be in writing, but it does require employees to be protected from fire hazards. A workplace fire safety and fire prevention plan that follows OSHA regulations must include the following:

  • A list of all major fire hazards, proper handling and storage procedures for hazardous materials, potential ignition sources and their control, and the type of fire protection equipment necessary to control each major hazard [29 CFR 1910.39(c)(1)];
  • Procedures to control accumulations of flammable and combustible waste materials [29 CFR 1910.39(c)(2)];
  • Procedures for regular maintenance of safeguards installed on heat-producing equipment to prevent the accidental ignition of combustible materials [29 CFR 1910.39(c)(3)];
  • The name or job title of employees responsible for maintaining equipment to prevent or control sources of ignition or fires; and [29 CFR 1910.39(c)(4)]
  • The name or job title of employees responsible for the control of fuel source hazards. [29 CFR 1910.39(c)(5)]
  • An employer must inform employees upon initial assignment to a job of the fire hazards to which they are exposed. An employer must also review with each employee those parts of the fire prevention plan necessary for self-protection [29 CFR 1910.39(d)].
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