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Fire safety in the workplace

Posted on November 21, 2010 at 3:33 PM

Fires occur when the right combination of oxygen, fuel and heat are combined. Oxygen is normally present in the air, so we must earn to control fuel (i.e. paper, wood, gasoline and other flammable material) and heat (i.e. friction, electricity, sparks, open flames). Everyone can reduce the risks of fires in the workplace by following Fire Safety principles.

Electrical Equipment

Electrical equipment failures or misuse of electrical equipment is the number one cause of industrial fires:

  • Replace cords and wires that are frayed or have worn insulation  
  • Don’t overload circuits, motors, fuses or outlets  
  • Make sure you have good ground connectors  
  • Keep debris and grease clear of machinery  
  • Lubricate bearings and gears so they don’t cause friction

Handling Flammable Substances

  • Never use flammables around open flames  
  • Use flammables in well-ventilated areas  
  • Clean up spills promptly and properly  
  • Dispose of clean-up materials (rags, sand, etc.)  
  • Ground containers when transferring flammable materials so you don’t generate static electricity  
  • Use only approved tools and equipment when working around flammable materials  
  • Know what materials are flammable  
  • Store flammables in approved containers  
  • Never store combustible materials with oxidizers  
  • Don’t’ cut on or heat a container that held flammable material until you know it is safe.


  • Keep work areas free of dust, lint, wood chips and other combustible trash  
  • Keep combustible materials away from lights, machinery and electrical sources  
  • Dispose of waste promptly and properly


  • Smoke only in designated areas  
  • Make sure smoking material and matches are extinguished and placed in proper containers  
  • Use space heaters only in approved areas; cords and safety shut-offs must work properly

The first thing you should do when you see a fire is to make the proper notification. Even a small fir can get out of hand in a hurry. In some cases, if may be necessary to leave the building and meet in a designated location outside. Everyone needs to be accounted for If you have fire extinguishers, you should make sure you have the right extinguisher for the type of fire:

Class A—ordinary combustibles such as cloth, paper wood and trash
Class B—gases and flammable liquids such as grease, oil, paint or solvents
Class C—electrical equipment. NEVER use water of fires involving electrical equipment
Class D—Combustible metals
Classes ABD and BC—use on combination fires

Using the right type of fire extinguisher is the first step. The next step is using it properly.

  1. Pull the pin
  2. Stand about 8 feet from the fire
  3. Aim at the BASE of the fire
  4. Squeeze the trigger

If the fire seems to expand, get out and leave it to the firefighters We hope a fire never happens in your area, but the above precautions and methods for handling a fire are basic information to assist you in the unexpected. Know how to report a fire and how to get out of the building. If you don’t know the answers to these questions Ask your supervisor NOW; it’s too late when the fire starts.

Dr. Isabel Perry prescribes solutions to reduce risk, costs and increase production for all types of organizations. Dr. Perry is an Orlando, Florida based Safety Professional with over 20 years of broad-based safety experience including: safety speaker, safety consultant, expert witness, and former safety executive at a Fortune 50 company. Her clients include many multinational firms. Dr. Perry’s can be contacted at Isabel@TheSafetyDoctor.com

Categories: Fire Safety

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