One of the biggest fire risks in the workplace comes from electrical appliances. All businesses have a duty to put in policies and procedures to protect everyone using their premises and a legal obligation to ensure relevant equipment is regularly PAT tested to prove that it’s safe to use.
How to Deal with an Electrical Fire
The common causes of electrical fires in the workplace are faulty equipment or placing items like heaters and lamps near flammable or combustible materials. According to the Health and Safety Executive, a few small, sensible changes can make a big difference in any workplace and reduce the risk of fire:
- Employers should carry out a workplace risk assessment and keep this regularly updated.
- You need to pay special attention to areas that contain ignitable material that could well increase the chance of a fire starting.
- You should ensure there’s not a build-up of rubbish, for example, keeping paper waste to a minimum.
- You need to have the right fire-fighting equipment on site and make sure that all fire exits are clearly marked and well maintained and your emergency lighting are regularly inspected and illuminate exits effectively.
- You need to train staff so that they can deal with a fire if it breaks out.
- When it comes to electrical equipment, checking connections, particularly on old devices, and watching for signs of loose wiring (such as flickering lights) are both important.
- Cables that get frayed need to be replaced by a qualified professional.
- You should also avoid trying to hide wiring under carpets where it can become worn without anyone noticing.
- Overloaded plug sockets can be an issue in many businesses, especially as they begin to grow or when extra staff are bought on during busy periods.
How to Tackle an Electrical Fire
When an electrical fire starts, the first thing you should look to do is try to switch off the power. Avoid pulling out the plug, instead switch the electricity off at the mains as this is much safer. If your electrical appliance is simply sparking, cutting the power may well be enough to stop any fire.
If a fire has started, and you can’t cut the power off at source, you need to use a suitable fire extinguisher – either a CO2 one or dry powder variety – to tackle the flames. Under no circumstances, should you use water on an electrical fire.
A fire outbreak is serious, the first priority is, of course, to protect everyone. You should instruct staff to vacate the office or workplace and you must only tackle the fire if you have the right equipment and the training to do so. If not, exit the area of the fire and call the fire brigade for assistance.
Ensuring you carry out regular checks of your electrical equipment and always get the best advice and guidance from health and safety professionals, should mean that the chances of a fire occurring in the workplace are kept to a minimum. The key to tackling any fire, however, is having the right equipment on site and giving your staff the appropriate training to handle a situation such as this.
At FTS we can help you with both, we offer online Fire Warden Training and we offer free assessments to ensure you have the right fire extinguishers in the right places, your emergency lighting can be tested and we are even able to inspect your fire doors. Call us on 0330 6600264 or email [email protected] for more information.
Until Next time, Stay Safe