There are many common workplace mistakes that help fires spread and do more harm. They’re easily avoidable, but often not viewed as a problem. Of course, the #1 way you can minimize fire injury and damage is a properly maintained and monitored fire alert system. Ensure that yours is up to code and inspected regularly. Here are just a few avoidable reasons fires spread more quickly than they should:
Believe it or not, dust is a major cause of fires spreading quickly. We’re not talking about dust that accumulates in a badly maintained office. Instead, wood dust and plastic chips can accumulate in industrial environments that lack an extraction fan. Even a significant amount of dust in the air can lead to sparking a fire. Even worse, it can help a fire spread much more quickly.
Blocking Emergency Exits
An emergency exit does you know good if the space in front of it is being used for storage or an extra desk. Employees can’t be expected to shove shelves or your old copier to the side when a fire’s bearing down on them. Keep emergency exits accessible.
Propped Fire Doors
Another problem is leaving fire doors propped open. They’re meant to help contain a fire so that it can’t spread as quickly. Leaving them open puts others at risk more quickly in the event of a fire.
A significant cause of workplace fires is machinery that becomes hot when plugged in. Even when not in use, it can heat up and spark a fire. This is how many overnight fires are started, because a machine wasn’t turned off or because it was left plugged in.
Putting too much stress on a single electrical socket is a major fire risk. We’ve all seen the joke about six surge protectors all plugged into another surge protector, but even exceeding the safe electrical output on a single surge protector can pose a fire risk.
Maintain your fire alert system and invest in a monitoring service. This is your first line of defense. Functioning and well maintained sprinklers are your second. Make sure fire extinguishers are available for workers. This minimizes the damage a fire can cause. Adopting safe habits on top of this doesn’t take much energy, but it can make the difference between a quickly forgotten minor incident and heartbreaking devastation. Most workplace fires are avoidable.