With many offices reopening full-time and getting busier in the run-up to the Christmas period, it is more vital than ever to keep on top of fire safety. Every year, there are around 22,000 fires in workplaces, so it is essential to identify potential hazards. But what are the flammable objects that we should be monitoring in order to reduce their risk to employees? The team at TVF (UK) Limited is here to help to highlight the most common offenders.
In these colder winter months, many offices may choose to install portable heaters as a means of providing extra warmth. However, should this equipment be used excessively, it can cause a spark and rapidly ignite the surrounding area. It’s vital to unplug all heaters when not in use and to ensure they aren’t operating near any combustible materials.
Damaged Power Cords
With the amount of electrical equipment inside most offices, it’s inevitable that they are one of the biggest fire safety hazards. If power cords become damaged, or outlets and extension cords are overloaded, a fire can easily spark. That’s why it’s important to make sure all electrical equipment is serviced and maintained regularly. With most offices being a home-from-home base for workers, employees may choose to bring in their own electrical equipment, such as laptops and phone chargers, however, all personal appliances must be PAT tested to certify they are safe to use.
Paper and cardboard are unavoidable in most offices, however, reams of it stored together can become incredibly combustible. It’s important to make sure that dry goods are not kept near any potential ignition sources, such as heaters. To reduce risk, be mindful of your storage techniques and perhaps enforce a clean desk policy to prevent stacks of paper from accumulating.
Although sofas and other soft furnishings can brighten up an office, they also provide one of the biggest fire hazards. A sofa can’t start an office fire, but it often contains flammable materials that can cause one to spread quickly. You should ensure all soft furnishings in the office comply with guidelines and comprise fire-resistant materials.
Styrofoam is highly flammable and classified as a B3 material; this means it’s forbidden from being used for building insulation. However, it’s a popular form of package protection, so copious amounts may arrive amongst deliveries. You should have a clear waste disposal plan in place and make sure that flammable waste is kept well away from main buildings and any potential sources of ignition.
How to manage fire safety hazards in your office
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 outlines the framework for fire safety measures in all non-domestic premises. It is the responsibility of the employer, landlord or building manager to ensure this order is upheld. This legally requires them to perform a fire risk assessment, to identify potential hazards. It also means that there must be the correct fire extinguishers in any place where there is a risk of ignition. Another important element of this order is that each workplace must nominate a responsible person to act as a fire warden. This means that there will always be someone on hand familiar with fire safety protocols. The fire warden must be provided with full fire safety training.
The team at TVF (UK) Limited has been providing the communities of High Wycombe, Watford and Slough with fire safety guidance and equipment since 1982. If you want to ensure your office is a fire-safe workplace, contact our expert team today and we’ll be more than happy to discuss your options or provide you with a no-obligation quote.