All fires need three elements to burn: Fuel, oxygen and a source of ignition. Consider those factors when evaluating your workplace — is it at risk for a potential fire? There are many types of fire hazards to keep in mind, and they can all result in devastating losses if not properly identified.
Everyone on the job is responsible for noticing potential fire risks and taking steps to ensure a safe workplace. By conducting a fire hazard assessment on a regular basis and implementing a fire prevention plan, you may be able to better identify those risks and reduce the chances of a fire at your business.
Fire hazard assessment
A fire hazard assessment should focus on keeping the elements that could create a fire far from each other, and ensure that sources of fuel or ignition are stored properly. Create a checklist and evaluate your workplace to identify fire hazards before they ignite. A few common items to check off of your list include:
- Maintaining a record of all chemicals that constitute a fire hazard.
- Inspecting and conducting preventative maintenance on electrical systems.
- Proper storage of flammable and combustible liquids, and propane and flammable gases.
- Implementing a hot work permit system for gas or electric welding or cutting.
- Conducting regular maintenance on heat-producing appliances and equipment.
- Identifying spontaneous combustion hazards (i.e., greasy rags, items soaked in paint or solvent, etc.) and storing them in noncombustible containers until they can be safely removed.
- Verifying fire extinguishers and sprinkler systems are adequately maintained.
- Ensuring fire detection and alarm systems are tested regularly.
Fire prevention plan
Once a fire hazard assessment is completed, the data can be used to create a fire prevention plan that is unique to your business. This plan should be communicated to every employee and include necessary changes to help prevent a fire. It may include tasks such as:
- Creating a list of the major fire hazards that may be in or around your workplace.
- Establishing procedures to control waste that may be flammable or combustible.
- Conducting regular maintenance on equipment and keeping up with “housekeeping” tasks.
- Assigning responsibility for maintaining fuel source hazards.
- Notifying employees about fire hazards that may be present.
- Ensuring everyone knows their role in fire prevention and protection.
- Installing sprinkler systems and posting no smoking signs clearly.
- Creating an evacuation plan, instructing employees, and conducting fire drills on a regular basis.
By utilizing assessments and prevention plans to reduce fire risks, and updating the plan annually or as needed, all employees should have a clear understanding of fire safety at their jobsite. A clear plan on how to identify – and remedy – fire risks is imperative to a successful and safe workplace.