Common Fire Hazards in the Office [Infographic]
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Common Fire Hazards in the Office
The way office workers actually work may have changed forever after COVID, with a lot of people sticking with working from home, but there are still plenty of offices out there that have gone back to operating as normal.
With this in mind, fire safety in the office is still really important. And in fact, it’s probably even more important if you have a hybrid working system, where fewer people are in the office at one time or if the space is empty for long periods.
So what can you do to tackle this?
Let’s look at common fire hazards, so you can get a better understanding of the potential causes of fire in your workplace. This should allow you to target certain behaviours and take certain steps to improve safety for your staff.
- Equipment Misuse
When we say misuse, we mean people who – either knowingly or unknowingly – use the wrong equipment, in the wrong place, at the wrong time. It’s a big cause of fires and is something you can try to stamp out with proper training for staff when they join your company.
Ensure staff know everything they need to in order to properly perform their job and don’t leave them guessing. Some people might feel obliged to “give things a go” if left without training or guidance, and that’s exactly what you don’t want.
- Faulty Electricals
You’d be surprised how many fires start due to faulty electrical items, and it’s so simple to protect against such a threat with PAT testing. Carried out regularly, any potentially defective electronics can then be repaired or replaced to prevent them from sparking and setting off a fire. This is even more important if your office is left unattended regularly.
Deliberate fires can devastate a business, and while you can’t stop it completely if someone wants to start a fire, you can do plenty to make it difficult for an arson attempt to take place.
Firstly, implement security measures that ensure only legitimate staff members can access the building – this includes getting keys or fobs back from staff who leave. Secondly, don’t leave any flammable items or materials around to be used as part of an arsonist’s plans; always remove rubbish from the building and secure dangerous materials.
- Human Error
As well as intentional fires being started, there is sometimes just human error involved in fires. It can be something as simple as someone forgetting about the food they started to cook in a kitchen area, some dumb luck where a drink is spilt on some electrics or even a chain of incidents, like different materials being stacked in the wrong place over time. There’s not much you can do here, aside from educating staff on proper procedures for storing materials and asking them to remain vigilant when it comes to fire safety.
- Flammable & Combustible Materials
Leading on from our previous point, you may be wondering what in an office could be classed as a dangerous, flammable or combustible material. The answer is items such as cooking oils from kitchen areas, stacks of paper and textiles, along with cleaning solutions and chemicals. Keep these stored securely and remove any waste materials from your office that could be used to start a fire – whether by accident or on purpose.
- Overloaded Extension Cables
This combines two of the points we’ve already made – equipment misuse and faulty electrics – but it’s a risk that is very specific for offices. You must ensure that extension cables are used properly and not overloaded. Overloading extension cables puts too much strain on them and can result in fires; only use them for their intended purpose.
The temperature of an office is a sore subject for many, resulting in the use of personal heaters or fans, but these should only be plugged into wall sockets, not extension cables. Heaters should also be placed somewhere with plenty of room around them so they’re not in a position to overheat. If staff bring in these personal heaters, they should make sure they’re not left running unattended at any time.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways office fires can start, requiring vigilance, up-to-date fire safety training and PAT testing to help keep people safe.
If you’re looking to improve fire safety in your office and meet your legal obligations, look no further than Surrey Tech Services. We offer a range of services for offices across the Home Counties – including Maidenhead, Guildford and Slough. We can provide fire alarm systems, and maintenance fire risk assessments, fire doors and other electrical services for your business. Call today for a quote or to discuss your specific requirements with our professional team.