Businesses and institutions can do a lot to protect against fire, but the best defense is to prevent a fire from starting in the first place. If a fire
occurs, it can damage and destroy property, costing thousands of dollars. Even worse, workplace fires can cause injury or death to employees. With the right caution and knowledge, these types of accidents or even disasters can be avoided. The most common causes of fire at the workplace are preventable with the proper training and precautions.
Most Common Causes of Fire in the Workplace
Over 25% of all fires are linked to a malfunction of either a
piece of electrical equipment, wiring, or both. Electricity is a common source of ignition for major fires. One way to avoid problems with electrical fires is to establish an electrical safety program.
All employees should be thoroughly familiar with the safety procedures for their particular jobs. To maximize his or her own safety, an employee should always use tools and equipment properly. Extension cords must be inspected before use, and those found questionable, removed from service and properly tagged. Damage or inadequate maintenance can cause equipment to deteriorate, resulting in unsafe conditions.
Flammable and Combustible Materials
There are thousands of chemicals in use in the modern American workplace. One of the most prevalent dangers of these chemicals is their flammability or combustibility. Improper handling of flammable materials brings a great risk of fire. When a flammable liquid is spilled, vapors begin to form immediately. It is the vapors that will ignite, and which pose the greater danger.
Flammable liquid spill cleanup should begin immediately. Vapors will continue to build until the liquid is removed, and they can be ignited by a variety of sources in the average workplace. The best way to avoid fire caused by these materials is to follow all OSHA guidelines when dealing with flammables.
The most common reason for a sprinkler system failure is human error. Often times the water supply was turned off at the time of the fire. The success of fire prevention strategies depends primarily on pre-planning, preparation, equipment quality, and the readiness of personnel. Employees and loss prevention practitioners must be knowledgeable about the proper use of extinguishers. If the wrong extinguisher is used, a fire may
become more serious.
is another common cause of fire in the workplace. It’s slightly different from fires caused by human error. Negligence occurs when an employee does not follow established procedures and knowingly undertakes an activity that is a potential fire hazard.
Fire caused by negligence can be the result of:
Hot surfaces too close to heating equipment
Open flame that’s not properly located or protected
Not following smoking restrictions or careless disposal of butts, ashes, and matches
Good common sense, self awareness, and close adherence to policy is a great way to avoid fires caused caused by general negligence. Posting fire safety signs in common areas is another way to keep fire safety at top of mind.
The premise behind arson prevention, like other prevention programs, is to address the opportunity to commit the crime. Arsonists, like other criminals, typically prefer to start fires in locations that are secluded or hidden. Prevention programs often suggest improving the surveillance in these areas by lighting the area, removing visual obstructions to natural observation, and moving the targets such as dumpsters.
Prevent the Common Causes of Fire in the Workplace
Fire prevention should be considered part of everyone’s job. Employees must help to keep the work area clutter-free and safe from fire hazards. Also, make sure extreme care is taken when working with chemicals such as flammable solvents, gasoline, gases, and fuels. Of course, the best prevention for fire is education and proper training.
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