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The Common Causes of Fire in the Workplace

According to government figures, Great Britain’s fire and rescue service attended 212,500 fires in 2013-14.  Of those, 22,000 were recorded as being in non-residential buildings - the majority of which were workplaces.  322 people died and there were almost 10,000 non-fatal casualties – with injuries often classed as life-changing.  Sobering facts indeed.

Common Causes of Workplace Fires

  1. Faulty Electrics are a very common cause of workplace fires and include loose wires and antiquated or faulty equipment. Every employer needs to ensure that fixed electrical equipment is maintained on a regular basis and annual Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) should be undertaken.
  2. Flammable or combustible materials represent a danger to your staff and your business. Every company should prioritise fire safety when undertaking risk assessments, and this is crucial in premises that hold any flammable or combustible materials or substances that must be stored appropriately stored and disposed of correctly. All staff should attend a fire safety training course to ensure correct procedure.
  3. Human Error represents a common cause of fires in the workplace, be it the incorrect use of electrical equipment, burning food or leaving cooking unattended in the staff kitchen as well as lack of proper care or knowledge of procedures around flammable or combustible liquids and materials. Fire safety training is invaluable to avoid this.
  4. Negligence may not seem a great deal different from human error but tends to be the result of sloppy or careless behaviour, or not following rules, regulation or correct procedures, from staff who should probably know better. Examples include the blocking or covering of machinery and equipment which requires venting thus causing overheating, not correctly disposing of cigarette ends, incorrectly storing flammable items – even paper – and overloading plug sockets. Again, robust fire training is imperative.
  5. Arson is a common cause of fire around business premises, which can be particularly prone to vandalism. Such fires can rapidly spread if there are no proper fire control systems. If suitable, work places should install fire shutters and sprinkler systems to protect their property as far as possible; and deterrents such as CCTV and gating can deter potential vandals.

What to Do in the Event of a Fire – and How to Avoid One

ALL businesses must have fire emergency plans, to include evacuation and meeting points.  The building’s alarm must be activated, the staff evacuated and emergency services called.  Never re-enter the building until the fire service authorise it.  Ensure all your staff has attended a comprehensive fire safety course to help avoid many fires occurring.