Office fires can be equally devastating for both the employees and employers. Even if no one gets hurt, the damages could take the business offline. The impacts of a commercial fire can range from business incapacitation to inventory loss.
As most businesses cannot afford a shutdown period, it is important to consider certain precautions to ensure the smooth functioning of the business. Identifying the potential and common office fire hazards and thinking ahead can help you ensure that your business doesn’t suffer any unwanted offline time.
Damaged power cords
Offices usually house a wide array of electrical equipment ranging from computers to microwaves. Consistent usage of these devices could lead to exposure and eventual wear out of electrical wires. On most occasions, even a simple wire exposure can trigger a spark, which can second major fire, is overlooked.
Follow these strategies to contain the risk from damaged power cords:
- Ensure all the wiring used or replaced during maintenance meets a minimum standard
- Inspect commercial electrical connections including power sockets and wiring cases at least once a year
Combustible materials, including paper and bin liners, can play a big role in spreading office fires. These materials are most often required and hence cannot be completely removed or banned in the offices. Considering this, it is ideal for enforcing certain precautionary measures to prevent fire mishaps.
- Office waste collected should be taken out daily
- Enforce a clean desk policy which requires the employees to store away loose papers and files in cabinets unless required
- Create awareness among the employees regarding the safe use of cleaning liquids and aerosols
- Be vigilant when choosing furniture for the office; choosing fireproof furniture is a good start. When choosing couches or soft furnishings, ensure that they meet the legislation on fire-resistant materials and manufacture.
Blocked walkways and fire escapes
You would often observe the fire escapes used to store cartons of unused furniture or other office properties. Ensure that the walkways and fire escapes are free of obstacles.
Educate the employees about the consequences of such actions and encourage them to follow the safety guidelines to prevent the unwanted.
Overloaded outlets and extension cords
Overloaded outlets and extension cords are some of the most commonly overlooked office fire hazards.
Used in every working environment, extensions are usually bent beyond their capacity, especially when plugged into multiple high voltage devices. This leads to excess heat flow and sparks and eventually garner a fire that can spread in a matter of minutes.
Using personal heaters at the workplace is common. Some offices may not have control of such electrical devices as the employees buy them. This can pose several risks:
- The employees can end up buying cheap products that run on low-quality wiring
- The employees can even forget to turn their equipment off at the end of the day
- Some cheap heaters might lack the auto turn off feature when tipped over
All these present a risk of fire and can turn out to be dangerous in any office environment.
Hidden fire cleanup hazards
When your business has suffered a fire, you might be compelled to return to the property for an initial inspection. Such situations can always pose several health and safety hazards some of them include:
- Fallen or damaged power lines that are still active
- Unstable structures, especially walls and roof tiles
- Fire extinguishers and LP gas tanks damaged from fire and heat
- Ruptured or damaged materials consisting of asbestos
Preventing an office fire at any cost should be the priority. Keep in mind that the cost involved in prevention is much lower than the recovery cost.
Online data transmission and storage is an integral part of the modern-day office setting. All those desktop computers and network connection requirements point towards the need of having a server room.
Bigger companies handling a large amount of data always have a loaded server room. Server rooms housing multiple racks of high-end and continuously operating electrical equipment often emits a large amount of heat, which presents risks, including electrical sparks, faulty hardware, and frayed wiring.
Air conditioning the server room is one option, but inspecting the server room, especially when you have multiple office equipment that is expected to be in operation around the clock.
Businesses on a tight budget often tend to look into cheap options when they require renovating. Replacing those worn-out ceilings with bright new but low-quality ceiling tiles is a hidden fire hazard in plain sight.
Even though cheap renovation options can add to the aesthetics of your workplace, most materials involved could be easily flammable and help spread fire quickly.
Smoking hazards within the office are more an overlooked fire hazard than a hidden one. People with no designated smoking areas can cause fire hazards by not properly stubbing out the cigarettes.
Workplaces don’t need to offer a smoking shelter to their employees; however, it is ideal for preventing workplace smoking hazards. Providing smoking shelter to employees lets them properly stub out and dispose of their cigarettes.
Faulty kitchen equipment
Kitchens are the most probable cause of fires in workplaces. Kitchens in offices are used consistently, meaning any equipment, including toasters, microwaves, or even the coffee machine, can wear out and turn out to be a ticking fire hazard. All those paper towels and plastic cutleries stacked in the kitchen could escalate the situation within minutes.
When it comes to ensuring fire safety at offices, the kitchen should be one of the top items in your maintenance checklist.
Workplace fire risk prevention is a complex task that includes several variables: fire risk assessment, fire alarm networks, fire extinguishers, and emergency lighting. It is ideal to get professional assistance for something as sensitive as this that relates to employee safety.
Cleaning up after fire damage is a serious task which on most occasions should be carried out under the supervision of a professional fire damage cleanup service. This is where Titan Restoration can be your first and last resort.