One of the most important things OSHA focuses on is fire prevention in the workplace. Due to this, OSHA has a set of standards which help employers reduce the risk of fire and ensure employee safety (see section 1910.39 for fire safety compliance). A fire prevention plan is required if there is 10 or more employees, as well as training on what to do if a fire does occur. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)’s fire code requires that commercial, industrial, and residential buildings have fire extinguishers on hand, as well as other types of fire safety equipment. The following are the four main kinds of this equipment. Keep in mind that if your workers are expected to operate fire safety equipment in the case of an emergency, they should be trained and able to use it safely.
All facilities are required to have fire extinguishers on site. These extinguishers should be easy to access, highly visible, properly charged, and inspected regularly. They’re often the first line of defense and commonly used to extinguish or contain fires, which prevents costly damage and saves lives. They should be installed high on the wall and located near an exit. When using a fire extinguisher, remember the PASS method: Pull the pin, aim low, squeeze the lever slowly, and sweep from side to side.
Fire Suppression Systems
Commercial fire sprinkler systems are an essential aspect to preventing death and property loss in the workplace. NFPA 13 provides the standard for sprinkler system installation and design. While extinguishers can contain small fires, sprinklers are the only means to dramatically reduce smoke, flames, and heat. They prevent a fire from spreading and may even put it completely out.
Alarms cut the risk of dying in a fire by half. They detect both flaming and smoldering fires and should be wired together so if one goes off in your workplace, they all go off. Test your smoke alarms at least once each month, and replace the batteries at least once a year. It’s recommended to replace the alarm itself after 10 years.
Carbon Monoxide Alarms
These alarms are a necessary yet often forgotten aspect in many workplaces. They alert people that there is carbon monoxide in the air, which is an odorless, invisible gas that’s created when fuels such as methane, oil, propane, gasoline, and natural gas don’t burn completely. A small amount of this gas can poison workers or become fatal if it’s breathed for a long period of time. The U.S. fire department responds to thousands of incidents per year which involve carbon monoxide.
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