Fire Safety in the Workplace

The average office is an inferno waiting to happen.  Collections of paper, soft furnishings, and huge stacks of electrical equipment all in close proximity is the sort of stuff that gives the fire department nightmares. If you don’t have a good, regularly updated fire safety plan in place, you should definitely start working on one now.

Early Detection Can Save Lives

It does not take long for a fire to take hold, and in an office full of paper a small fire can quickly become life-threatening.  Modern smoke detectors, however, are good at catching fires before they start producing large amounts of smoke.  Combine those with a good sprinkler system (or similar fire control system), and a system to alert the local fire department, and you’ve just massively increased the chances of catching a fire before any serious damage is done.

Keeping People Informed

You’ve probably invested a lot in SCADA for your plant and machinery, but have you considered investing in process monitoring for safety purposes?  If you hook up your fire detection systems to your web-facing process monitoring system, you can keep an eye on things while you’re on the road, and send alerts to office managers, off-duty staff, and others that might need to know what’s going on in an emergency.

Put Prevention First

In most cases, office fires are easily prevented. The most common cause of office fires are faulty electrical systems, and cigarette smoking.  Both of these things should be easy to manage.

If you inspect all of your company electrical equipment regularly, and decommission anything with frayed wires or damaged plugs, you will make your office a lot safer.  There’s a growing trend for employees to bring in their own personal mobile phones and tablet PCs, and plug these in at the office.  Policing this can be next to impossible, but if you make an effort to educate your employees, you should be able to prevent them from plugging in damaged devices.

Smoking is banned in most offices these days, but that does no’t mean that people don’t do it. If it’s raining outside, the temptation for people to smoke in the toilets, or in a quiet meeting room, can be too hard to resist.  If you haven’t already provided a sheltered area outside for people to smoke in, complete with a safe area for them to dispose of cigarettes, consider doing so.

Fire Drills Save Lives

You may feel silly when you bring up the issue of running a fire drill to your employees, but it is something that you should do every few months.  Be sure to test all of your smoke detectors and any related SCADA equipment, and make sure that people run through evacuation procedures.  People might roll their eyes when you bring up safety basics such as leaving stuff behind, checking doors before opening them, and meeting at a specific, safe place outside – but all of those points could save lives.  When it comes to fires, there’s no such thing as being over-prepared.