Top Tips For Business Fire Safety
We all recognise the importance of business fire safety, but what steps do we actually take to protect our workplaces and keep our colleagues safe? Staying prepared, and working hard to prevent hazards, should be high on the agenda for every business. However, too often, companies let their standards slip and put their colleagues at risk. There’s a lot at stake with business fire safety, and learning more helps you keep your business running smoothly and safely.
Why is Business Fire Safety so Important?
We have a duty to protect our colleagues from worry and harm. Implementing risk reduction policies, both for small-scale risks and large structural hazards, proves essential for keeping your business safe. Also, it’s the law. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 compels workplaces in England and Wales to uphold fire safety policies or face heavy fines and up to two years in prison. Anyone found guilty of negligence in the aftermath of a fire could also be prosecuted for any harm or destruction caused.
Beyond that, property investments and reputational values also hinge on fire safety. If you’ve invested in a shiny office with valuable equipment, it pays to protect it from workplace accidents. Healthy reputations also help businesses to grow. Businesses with robust safety policies can win over colleagues, clients, and investors far better than those with a history of fire hazards.
What Causes Fires in Workplaces?
At a basic level, fires require fuel, heat, and air. This fuel and ignition come in many forms throughout modern workplaces, from electrical equipment to smoking areas, to cooking or heating equipment. However, many workplace fires stem from human error and spiral out of control when staff panic. These accidents are rarely the employee’s fault. In fact, it often results from a lack of training and equipment.
Remote and hybrid working have boomed in recent years, leaving many modern workers unfamiliar (or very rusty) with workplace safety protocols. Workplaces may also develop extra fire hazards from inconsistent use over the last few years. If workers aren’t familiar with extinguisher locations, fire exits, and fire alarm muster reporting, then it’s important to jog their memories with some fire safety tips.
Business Fire Safety Tips
- Assemble Your Safety Team
Like the business itself, business fire safety procedures require structure and responsibility to work effectively. It’s, therefore, important to designate a responsible person to own your fire safety plan. They’ll be in charge of auditing your existing risks and updating your strategies. Similarly, you also need fire marshals to assist with fire drills and evacuations. As sources of information and leadership, they play a vital role in business fire safety.
- Conduct a Thorough Risk Assessment
A company’s industry, equipment, and workplace raise unique fire safety concerns, and it’s important to understand them in order to keep your team safe. Businesses must assess each fire hazard from each potential source of fuel and ignition and analyse how a fire could develop. While this job may seem morbid, it’s fundamental to business fire safety and helps shape plans that save lives.
- Get the Right Equipment
There’s more to fire safety than fire extinguishers alone. Fire blankets, sprinklers, fire doors, and fire exits should all be deployed and maintained to keep a business safe. Beyond hardware, businesses also upgrade their fire safety infrastructure with smart technology, such as digital fire alarm muster reporting. These tools provide actionable data to improve your fire response and keep your employees safe.
- Highlight Your Signage
Businesses clearly label their equipment and evacuation routes to ensure workers know where they are and how to use them. Fires sow panic and disrupt visibility by creating smoke and interfering with electrical lighting. In the event of a fire, signage becomes more important than ever.
- Update Your Business Fire Safety Training
As mentioned, employees might be pretty rusty on their business fire safety training. If they’ve been hired remotely, they might not have even seen the office, let alone know about the fire exits. Scheduling regular fire safety training making sure it’s engaging, practical, and memorable, instils essential skills throughout the business.
- Create Personal Evacuation Plans
Business fire safety is a team effort, but every team member should know their role. Different roles, locations, and individual characteristics can bring unique challenges to staying safe in the office. For example, businesses must ensure that fire exits stay accessible and unobstructed for employees with mobility issues. Developing personal evacuation plans with each colleague helps you understand risks and how to mitigate them on an individual basis.
- Conduct Thorough Drills and Tests
Fire drills play an important role in business fire safety. If employees only hear the fire alarm for the first time when an actual fire breaks out in the office, they’ll be far more panicked and far less prepared. While they can seem disruptive, fire drills ensure that safety equipment and colleagues alike function smoothly, keeping your fire protocols sharp and effective.
- Clear Your Clutter
Office fires thrive on waste, clutter, and debris. When businesses turn their spare meeting room into a cluttered storage room, or pack wire and folders under their desks, they create an added fire hazard. Clutter provides fuel for fires, while obstructing fire exits, and sometimes even wedging open fire doors. Cleaning and waste management thereby supports fire safety, as well as creating an efficient workspace.
- Reduce Other Workplace Fire Hazards
Once you’ve assessed the sources of fuel and ignition in your workplace, you can start considering less hazardous options to reduce the risks. Switching from paper files to digital storage and logistics goes a long way toward reducing flammable office supplies. Switching your heating and lighting options can also keep your workplace safer.
- Stay Vigilant to Maintain Your Business Fire Safety
Vigilance teams create safe businesses. When each and every colleague knows the risks, they know how to mitigate them. They also know how to act calmly and effectively in the event of an emergency, prioritising safety and supporting colleagues and fire services in managing the danger swiftly.
Of course, this isn’t an extensive list, so feel free to familiarise yourself with advice from the government and your local authorities. In the meantime, stay safe, and well done for picking up these business fire safety tips!