Safeguarding your workplace against fire is an important priority for any business leader — training is part of this equation.
Fire prevention is one of the constants in running a business. While the practices associated with fire safety differ based on the kind of company in question, there is always a need to put in the effort to keep employees safe.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s requirements regarding fire hazard negation are a good starting point if you’re unsure whether you’re doing enough to protect your workplace from a blaze. Reacquainting yourself with safety musts can point you in the direction of important facility features, planning priorities and training needs.
Once you’ve mastered the basics, you may opt for additional training courses to help keep your facilities safer and better protected against any possible fire risk. Any workplace can suffer a devastating fire, and being well-prepared for such an emergency may help your team members stay calm and undertake the ideal response to a given situation, whether that means battling the fire with an extinguisher or evacuating the building.
What Does OSHA Require?
OSHA’s fire safety regulations make clear distinctions about which kinds of fire prevention are universally required and which are optional. For instance, it’s illegal to have a workplace that does not have enough exits for a quick and orderly evacuation in case of a fire. Fire extinguishers, on the other hand, are not required in all cases. Companies that use portable fire extinguishers also have to brief employees on their use through hands-on training if those workers will be called on to use the equipment in an emergency.
Some of the requirements have to do with the hazards present in a particular workplace. Employers that deal with highly hazardous materials, flammable waste, heat-producing equipment and possible ignition sources need to have emergency action plans, for example. If your facility is required to have a plan, you need to ensure workers know about the hazards in question and the procedures in the emergency action plan. When the plan changes or a new employee joins the company, it’s time to educate workers on their roles in an emergency.
Action plans aren’t just a list of activities to undertake when a fire occurs. The documents should also lay out the types of alarms in use and mandate training. Potentially dangerous chemicals call for an even more in-depth type of strategy: Codified fire prevention plans that are available for employee review are necessary for organizations that deal with Ethylene Oxide, Methylenedianiline or 1,3 Butadiene.
What Should Fire Prevention Inspections Focus On?
Beyond checking a workplace against OSHA’s rules, you should periodically ensure your facility isn’t home to everyday risk factors that might undercut worker safety. The U.S. Army’s Workplace Safety Division gave a helpful list of fire risks to look for during a regular inspection. For instance, employees must use power cords responsibly. In cases when extension cords have become a de facto permanent solution, employers must replace them with safe wiring.
It’s also important to ensure items are stored in safe locations. Nothing flammable or combustible should be near electrical devices, for example. An inspection should also include the building’s fire exits: Is there a clear path to every door? Are the emergency lights around the exits functional? Is there proper signage indicating how to evacuate the building?
Even facilities that don’t use handheld fire extinguishers should have automatic systems such as alarms and sprinklers in place. When inspecting for safety, personnel must check on fire suppression systems as well as any extinguishers present. If such equipment fails during an emergency situation, the results could be disastrous.
Why Is Fire Safety Training Helpful?
Using modern, video-based training courses, you can impart lessons that are relevant to a particular type of workplace and cover multiple aspects of disaster mitigation, from looking out for everyday hazards to leading a calm evacuation.
Industrial facilities and buildings housing regulated hazardous chemicals have unique fire prevention procedures and emergency countermeasures. Healthcare facilities also demand specialized training materials designed with particular scenarios in mind. Even the most common and innocuous settings such as office buildings have their own procedures and best practices to learn. Fires remain a surprisingly frequent source of fatalities, injuries and property damage — and are worth preparing for.
In addition to choosing courses that refresh workers’ knowledge of common fire prevention and evacuation techniques, you can opt for video-based training materials to help you implement OSHA-required action and prevention plans, where required. Giving employees as much information and preparation as possible regarding fire safety can represent the difference between a safe evacuation and a disastrous outcome. The human and material costs of being unprepared for a fire are so potentially large, you can’t afford to ignore fire safety training.