Common Causes of Workplace Fires (and How to Avoid Them)
August 11th, 2023
Last updated: August 11th, 2023
Fire safety is a paramount concern in any workplace, and there are rightly strict regulations and guidelines to ensure the protection of employees, visitors, and property. Workplace fires can lead to devastating consequences, including loss of life, injuries, and other damage, which can potentially lead to legal action. In this blog post, we will delve into the main factors that can start fires in UK workplaces, plus a few basic tips for prevention.
Causes of Workplace Fires
So, what are some of the most common causes of workplace fires? There are many ways in which a fire can potentially start, but some of the common problems stem from the following:
Misuse of Equipment: The most common cause of fires in workplaces is the misuse of equipment. Some workplaces rely on hazardous equipment in order to get their job done, and even things like ovens and electrical equipment can pose significant risk when used incorrectly.
Electrical Faults: Faulty wiring, overloaded circuits, and malfunctioning equipment can all lead to electrical fires. Regular maintenance and inspections of electrical systems are crucial to prevent such incidents. PAT testing is a way to ensure that the equipment is functioning properly.
Flammable Materials: Improper storage and handling of flammable liquids, gases, and chemicals can create a hazardous environment. These substances should be stored in appropriate containers and cabinets, away from potential ignition sources.
Cooking Facilities: In workplaces with kitchens or cooking facilities, unattended stoves, ovens, or microwaves can easily lead to fires. Clear guidelines on proper cooking practices and regular equipment checks are essential, along with proper ventilation.
Smoking: Smoking in prohibited areas or failing to properly extinguish cigarette butts can trigger fires. Designated smoking zones should be established, away from the building and smoking regulations strictly enforced.
Heating Equipment: Space heaters, radiators, and other heating devices can pose a fire risk if they are placed too close to flammable materials or left unattended.
Arson and Vandalism: Deliberate acts of arson or vandalism can lead to devastating fires. Implementing security measures, such as surveillance cameras and access controls, can deter such incidents.
Preventing Fires in the Workplace
Properly maintaining equipment, training staff, and ensuring your building is compliant are all ways to help with potential fire hazards. Businesses have a legal obligation to keep people safe while they are on-site, and regulations and laws are in place for this reason.
Fire prevention steps include:
Fire Risk Assessments. Businesses must conduct a thorough fire risk assessment to identify potential hazards, evaluate existing safety measures, and develop a comprehensive fire safety plan.
Training and Awareness. Employees should receive proper training on fire safety procedures, including how to use fire extinguishers, evacuate safely, and prevent common fire hazards.
Equipment Training. Any equipment that needs specific training to use should be considered, and staff need to know the fire risk associated.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005: This law requires businesses to conduct fire risk assessments, implement appropriate safety measures, and provide fire safety information to employees and visitors. Plus, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, though not specific to fire safety, places a general duty on employers to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of employees and others who may be affected by their activities, including fire safety.
Our accredited safety professionals can advise on all aspects of fire systems and their maintenance. From our Yorkshire base, we can visit your premises and provide you with a planned preventative maintenance schedule, ensuring that you remain safe and compliant at all times.
Working across Yorkshire, we cover North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, East Yorkshire and South Yorkshire and offer a fast, efficient response time to all breakdowns and repairs. Contact us today for all planned, reactive maintenance or emergency call out. Call 01423 226578 or get in touch to see how Robinsons Facilities Services can help.