All warehouse and distribution centre managers and owners need to make fire safety a priority. They not only have an obligation under Health and Safety law but also have one to their employees who work there and any visitors.
Fire Safety Tips for Warehouses and Distribution Centres
The potential for a catastrophic event and the danger it can pose to those using the premises can’t be underestimated when it comes to warehouses. Because of the open spaces and busy environment, where heavy machinery and hazardous or combustible products are often being handled, having robust fire management processes and safety measures in place is key.
Identify Potential Causes of Fire
Warehouse Managers need to reduce the possibility of fire breaking out and you can’t do that if you don’t understand the location in detail. Warehouses and distribution centres vary widely in size and construction but some factors remain the same.
Arson is one way that a fire can be caused on the premises. That means you need to be careful about leaving certain materials about or partition off materials that may combine to cause a bigger fire. If there’s combustible material on site you need to store it correctly to reduce the risk. Machinery and equipment has to be properly maintained – it’s one of the most common reasons that a fire breaks out in a warehouse.
Electrical fire is another hazard, regular PAT Tests and visual inspections of electrical equipment should be carried out to identify and rectify potential fires.
Hazardous materials should be stored in a safe lockable area, recorded and if required, the relevant fire extinguisher kept close at hand in an accessible location.
Combustible waste materials such as paper and cardboard should be disposed of , so should a fire break out there is less fuel for the fire.
Commercial areas like warehouses should have a risk assessment on a regular basis. This ensures that fire safety and other measures are kept in place and improved as legislation, best practice and technology changes. It can also help managers and owners develop the right policies to put in place to ensure the safety of the property, the employees and users of the site.
Creating a Fire Safety Policy
All warehouses and distribution centres need to have a comprehensive fire safety policy. That includes designating responsibilities and making sure that equipment such as fire extinguishers are kept in the right places, how equipment is stored and maintained, where the emergency exits are, regular testing of the emergency lighting and fire alarm system and where staff need to go if the alarm goes off. Without a strong policy in place, busy areas like warehouses can often encourage poor and unsafe practice.
Training Staff for Fire Safety
You need to have the appropriate staff designated for fire safety and these should be trained appropriately. They should understand the challenges that the location presents and have a clear understanding of the safety measures that are designed to protect those working there. Fire safety training is not simply a one off but an ongoing process of assessing risks and requires regular updates to ensure staff are equipped for the task ahead.
Installing and Maintaining Fire Safety Equipment and Extinguishers
Most warehouses will have a mix of safety equipment that is designed to fight a fire outbreak including extinguishers and water sprinklers. The extinguishers should be appropriate for the materials being handled in the workplace, the area involved and should be easily accessible. Regular maintenance is also key and tests and checks must be carried out on a monthly basis to ensure integrity. That includes fire alarm testing and reviewing fire safety and an annual service is required by qualified engineers as an ongoing process.
Emergency Exits, Fire Doors and Emergency Lighting
All Emergency exits should be kept clear at all times. The emergency lighting should be tested on a regular basis by a competent person and fire doors should be inspected at either 6 monthly or annual intervals.
Alarms and Evacuation Procedures
Regular fire evacuations should be scheduled so that every person on site knows exactly what to do in the event of a fire. Alarm systems should be tested regularly and details of both of these activities should be recorded.
There are a number of other site specific considerations you will need to take into consideration. Whether you need assistance with PAT Testing, Fire extinguisher serving or provision, emergency light testing, fire door inspections, fire alarm maintenance, risk assessments or fire safety training FTS Safety Solutions can help ensure your warehouse or distribution centre is Fire Safe! Contact us on 0330 6600264 or email [email protected]
Until Next time, stay safe!