A fire in any business affects the employees, neighboring businesses, and the community, as well as the business owner. You can help reduce the threat of fire to your workplace by following basic fire-safe practices.
- Maintain good housekeeping in your work area. Keep waste paper or trash, empty boxes, and dirty rags in a proper storage container. Storage should always be neat and orderly. Keep exits and stairways clear of any obstructions.
- Extension cords are for temporary, short-term use, only. If having a qualified electrician install an additional outlet isn't an option, move the appliance or equipment closer to an available outlet or use a power strip with its own circuit breaker.
- Assign an employee to make certain all appliances not in use (e.g., coffeepots) are turned off or unplugged at the end of every workday.
- Maintain a clear, unobstructed space of at least 36 inches around electrical panels or switchboards. Portable heaters must also have 36 inches of clearance.
- The improper use of smoking materials is a major cause of fires. Be aware that someone might have "sneaked a cigarette" and disposed of it improperly in a restroom or other out-of-the-way place.
- Repair holes in the walls or ceilings as soon as possible. Smoke and fire can swiftly spread throughout your building through the smallest of openings.
- Know the location of the fire extinguishers closest to your regular work area. Learn how to use one. Most fire extinguishers are only good for small fires and can increase your risk of injury if used improperly.
- Be familiar with all your building's potential exits. Know more than one escape route and PLAN AHEAD to avoid a panic situation.
- Practice your emergency plan on a regular basis. When it comes to fire safety, being a responsible employee means that the company you work for is more likely to be there tomorrow. Participate in self-inspection programs, fire drills, and emergency planning. After all, the best way to fight a fire is to keep it from happening in the first place!