According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workplace related fire fatalities increased by more than double in 2010 to 109. This represents the highest number of reported fatalities due to fire since 2003. This alarming rate of increase sheds light on the importance of reducing fire risk in your small business. Workplace fire prevention tips not only help prevent injury and death, but helps to prevent monetary loss to your small business as well.
Keep in mind that insurance companies look at inherent risks in a business when evaluating customers for insurance. And fire risk is one of the factors looked at when setting up a property insurance policy.
Here are 10 ways of reducing fire risk in your small business workplace.
- Main fire safety equipment. Test smoke alarms monthly and change batteries twice per year.
- Be thorough with workplace housekeeping. Clutter contributes to fire hazards by being a source of fuel and preventing access to fire equipment and exits.
- Purchase fire extinguishers. And learn how to use them.
- Avoid overloading outlets. Overloading outlets not only causes blown fuses, but can increase the risk of a fire. Don’t overload extension cords or power strips either.
- Monitor machinery overheating. Keep heat sensitive equipment, such as servers, computers, and other equipment cool to prevent overheating.
- Repair faulty wiring. Some fires in the small business workplace are a result of faulty wiring or malfunctioning electrical equipment. If you suspect either of these, contact a qualified and authorized agent to investigate and make the needed repairs.
- Store chemicals safety. Refer to the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for flammability and fire hazard information, as well as proper usage of chemicals. When using chemicals, ensure that there is proper ventilation.
- Ensure unobstructed access to electrical control panels. Don’t store boxes or equipment in front of electrical control panels, which could slow you down in shutting down power in the event of an emergency situation.
- Practice fire safety drills regularly. Make sure all employees are aware of your small business emergency evacuation plan. Keep evacuation paths and exits clear.
- Post emergency telephone numbers. This allows quick access during a stressful, fire emergency.
Reducing fire risk in your small business workplace is everyone’s job. In addition to injury and potential loss of life, a fire can disrupt operations and even close a small business for good. Rebuilding a company after a devastating fire is costly, and many small businesses don’t have the resources to do it. Do what you can to prevent fires, and know what to do should one occur.