Fire Safety at Work

Most fires can be prevented, by taking some basic and common sense precautions. Those responsible for workplaces and other buildings to which the public have access can avoid them by taking responsibility for and adopting the right behaviours and procedures.

Causes of Fire in the Workplace

Fire is a chemical reaction requiring the combination of three factors to be present:

  • Heat (there has to be an initial source to spark the ignition. Fire can be prevented by controlling possible ignition sources, for example, not using open flames.)
  • Fuel (such as paper or wood and flammable substances. Fire can be prevented by removing or storing safely fuel from workplaces and by making sure that it is not kept close to heat or ignition sources.)
  • Oxygen (this is approximately 20% of the atmosphere. If a fire has started then smothering the flames will deprive the fire of oxygen and will put the fire out.)

Remove at least one of these factors and the fire goes out!

The main causes of workplace fires are:

  • Electrical equipment e.g faulty, damaged or covered equipment
  • Heaters e.g. unattended, too close to combustibles, faulty
  • Smoking e.g. not in the permitted area, smoker’s bin not emptied regularly
  • Poor housekeeping e.g. rubbish left to accumulate, cables coiled, plugs overloaded
  • Friction e.g. belts on machinery
  • Contractors’ equipment e.g. unattended, too close to combustibles, faulty
  • Cooking equipment e.g unattended, too close to combustibles, inexperienced staff
  • Arson e.g. wheelie bins left near buildings or perimeters, unsecured areas.

What Employers Need to Do

  • Appoint a competent person to carry out a fire safety risk assessment
  • Keep sources of ignition and flammable substances apart
  • Avoid accidental fires, e.g. make sure heaters cannot be knocked over
  • Ensure good housekeeping at all times, e.g. avoid build-up of rubbish that could burn
  • Provide employees with information, instruction and training
  • Consider how to detect fires and how to warn people quickly if they start, e.g. installing smoke alarms and fire alarms or bells
  • Have the correct fire-fighting equipment for putting a fire out quickly
  • Keep fire exits and escape routes clearly marked and unobstructed at all times
  • Ensure workers receive appropriate training on procedures they need to follow, including fire drills
  • Review and update your risk assessment regularly

What Employees Need to Do

  • Take reasonable care for the health & safety of themselves and others affected by their acts or omissions
  • Cooperate with the employer and others to enable them to fulfil their legal obligations
  • Inform their employer of dangerous situations or shortcomings in health & safety
  • Have a responsibility to abide by fire safety procedures
  • Know the company fire procedures & how to raise the fire alarm

What to Do if You Discover a Fire

  • Raise the alarm – yell to warn others
  • Operate the nearest alarm point
  • Call the fire service (information required – address, location of the fire, any known hazards or vulnerable people, any casualties or persons not accounted for)
  • Do not stop to collect belongings
  • Close doors and windows (only if this causes no delay or risk to safety)
  • Report to the assembly point

Staying Safe During a Fire

On hearing the fire alarm, leave calmly but promptly via the nearest exit to the fire assembly point, closing doors and windows behind you. Do not stop to collect belongings as this could delay your evacuation or delay other people by blocking emergency escape routes. If smoke is present on your evacuation stay down as low as possible as the air will be cooler and clearer as the heat and smoke rises due to convection. Attempt to extinguish the fire only if ti is safe to do so. Only return tot the building after the fire service has given the all clear.

If you need training on Fire Safety contact us to book onto a Fire Safety course.


Subscribe for our latest offers and updates