Common Causes of Workplace Fires
Although many workplaces have fire safety precautions and employees trained in fire safety, unfortunately there are still over 16,000 commercial fires a year in the UK. In order to prevent a dangerous or potentially fatal fire, there are many precautions you can take to reduce the risk. Workplace fires are more common in the opening hours than on weekends, as the majority of fires are caused by human error or when certain equipment is in use. Here, we will look at the common causes of workplace fires:
The most common cause of workplace fires is cooking equipment, as over 1 in 4 office building fires are related to cooking equipment incidents. Often the equipment is faulty – causing it to overheat and produce sparks, igniting fires. Usually, these type of fires are easily controlled, but some can still cause massive damage to the building and even injuries or fatalities to staff.
Prevention: It is crucial that workplace equipment is regularly checked to avoid any fires and any faulty equipment is replaced immediately. Also, when using the cooking equipment, it must be supervised at all times by the member of staff using it, so if any problems do arise, it can be quickly dealt with.
Electrical malfunctions can also cause fires in the workplace, often caused by extension leads being overused or not discarding of and replacing frayed wires. If the wires are installed incorrectly (such as under carpet fittings) this can also increase the risk of fire.
Prevention: You can ensure wiring around the building is installed correctly and all electrical equipment is fitted with breakers. Breakers should be triggered to stop the electrical flow through an object, when it is overloaded with too much electricity. If the breaker boxes are old and worn, they may not work as a safeguarding feature, and then the overload of electricity will start a fire.
During the winter months, commercial buildings often require heating so workers can work in a comfortable temperature during their shifts. Often times, boilers, furnaces, and radiators are at risk of overheating. If the equipment is not maintained correctly or is placed near flammable items, this can lead to a fire.
Prevention: Not leaving heating equipment turned on and unattended for prolonged periods of time – as well as regular checks to avoid using faulty products. Furthermore, buying good quality and reliable heaters will reduce the risk of fire.
Many people believe that fires won’t happen in their building or that its not their responsibility to maintain the equipment that could cause fires and report any faulty equipment. The fact is that many fires could have been avoided if everyone working in the office recognised and highlighted any damaged or faulty equipment to those who could replace them. The risk increases the larger the amount of people working an office.
Prevention: You must ensure all staff know to report any faulty equipment, not leave any cooking food unattended, and are trained in fire safety drills – such as using the correct fire extinguishers for different fires and having knowledge of all the fire exits. The proper disposal of lit cigarettes in ashtrays can also prevent the spread of fire – so arrange for these to be provided outside your workplace.
Arson is the second most common cause of workplace fires and can cause devastating consequences for the company.
Prevention: It is important to install deterrents in your workplace, such as CCTV and limit the amount of people who have access to the building, to avoid any arsonists gaining easy access. Furthermore, having letter boxes can attract arsonists as it is an easy place to start a fire, so ensuring letterboxes are well lit and monitored by CCTV will deter this problem. Unfortunately, someone you may employ might start a fire purposely, so it is still important to have other precautions like fire sprinklers, to reduce this risk. Fire sprinklers have been proven to massively reduce the risk of anyone falling victim to an arson attack.
Obviously, no matter the risk of fire, installing an extensive and working fire alarm system will save lives, as well as a reduce the amount of damage the fire will cause the building.
Airway Group are experts in air conditioning, electrical and mechanical services for commercial, industrial, and domestic customers. For more information about fire safety in the workplace, please get in touch with us today!
Disclaimer- this article is for informational purposes only and we do not hold responsibility for the safety precautions taken by the reader of this article.