Common Fire Hazards In The Workplace (& What To Do About Them)

Common Fire Hazards In The Workplace (& What To Do About Them)

June 26, 2024
multiple plugs plugged into one socket

Employers are duty-bound to provide safe spaces for employees to work, with clear processes and procedures in place should possible risks come to fruition. Danger to employees can come from a range of places but the risk of fire is undoubtedly one of the most significant. In fact, there are many common fire hazards in the workplace and these can lead to disastrous consequences including injury, fatality and structural damage. 

To ensure that your workplace is as safe as it should be, you must be aware of the most common fire hazards in the workplace. We have outlined these in this article along with some steps you can take to meet your duties as an employer and prevent their escalation into a fire. 

1. Faulty Electrical Equipment

For a fire to start, a heat source must be present. Heat sources can take many forms but electrical equipment is undoubtedly one of the most common fire heat sources and therefore most common fire hazards in the workplace, particularly in instances where there is naturally a high concentration of electrical items within a confined space. Broken plugs, overloaded extension sockets and faulty items are all capable of igniting a fire and therefore only equipment in a good state of repair should be present and used by employees. Equipment should be inspected and PAT tested regularly to check this, with anything damaged and posing a fire hazard removed from use immediately. 

2. Kitchen Equipment

Employers should also be mindful of the risk posed by electrical kitchen equipment in particular. Staff rooms and kitchens will typically include a range of electrical items including toasters, microwaves and ovens. These heat sources are particularly dangerous and can result in fires starting very quickly as they go hand in hand with the presence of fuel like crumbs and grease. To control this common fire hazard, staff should only use clean appliances that have been pre-approved and checked and cooking should never be left unattended. 

3. Flammable Liquids

Any business which uses or stores flammable liquids (such as gases, solvents and glues) should also be aware that these are a common fire hazard in the workplace. When in contact with heat, flammable liquids burn quickly and can result in the rapid spread of fire. All workplaces should have a proper process for storing fuel sources away from heat sources, with all appropriate staff adequately trained on their proper use.

4. Poor Housekeeping

Clutter and waste buildup, especially around fire exits and storage areas, can pose a significant fire risk in the workplace. While it is natural for employees to store documents and personal items around their desks and workspaces, these types of items should always be stored in an appropriate location to avoid accumulation and increase the risk of contact with a heat source. Similarly, employers should also provide suitable waste disposal methods so that staff can maintain appropriate levels of tidiness and safely dispose of unwanted items which could fuel a fire. 

5. Inadequate Active Fire Protection Measures

The goal should always be to prevent the initial outbreak of fire. However, emergencies should be planned for and workplaces must always have suitable active fire protection measures in place to detect fires and alert building occupants to the danger. These active measures can range from fire alarms to sprinkler systems, and all work together alongside preventative measures to play a critical role in improving fire safety in the workplace. 

However, failure to adequately implement suitable active fire protection or train staff on what to do in the event of a fire poses one of the most common fire hazards in the workplace. Even well-equipped workplaces can be at risk if these systems fail to perform when relied upon or if staff are complacent about their presence. Therefore, all active fire protection systems must be regularly tested and maintained with employees trained on how to use or respond to these systems in the event of an emergency.

Keeping Your Workplace Safe From Common Fire Hazards

Awareness of common workplace fire hazards is key to keeping the workforce safe and implementing suitable strategies to prevent fires at work. As we have touched upon, thorough staff training, clear expectations and active fire protection measures all play a key role in improving fire safety in the workplace and limiting the possible damage that these common hazards may cause.

However, employers must be aware that their safety obligations do not end at awareness. Workplace fire safety can also be improved through the implementation of passive fire protection measures including suitable fire doors and fire stopping. These ensure that a fire can be suitably contained and the building evacuated should hazards result in an outbreak in the workplace. In fact, as per the Fire Safety Order, the workplace’s Responsible Person is legally required to implement passive fire protection measures as well as active fire protection measures and ensure that they are suitably maintained. 

If you require any assistance in improving fire safety in the workplace or with implementing and maintaining suitable fire stopping systems, get in touch with WGP Maintenance today. Our specialist team hold the highly regarded BM Trada Q-Mark certification and are the trusted experts when it comes to providing you and your building with suitable advice and solutions, including fire door and fire stopping surveys, installation and maintenance. 

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