It’s important for workplaces to safeguard employees and property with fire protection, prevention systems. Buildings have what is called ‘fire load’—a term fire protection professionals use when determining the potential severity of a fire in a building based on the presence of certain hazards—and fire prevention systems are put in place to keep a building’s fire load as low as possible.
Fire prevention is all about being proactive when it comes to identifying and removing fire hazards. In the workplace some of the most common causes of fires include:
- Electrical issues: Damaged extension cords, blocked electrical panels and headers, overloaded circuits, arc flash explosions, etc.
- Flammable materials: Improper storage or handling of flammable liquids and gases.
- Dust: Excessive buildup of combustible dust which can often happen in facilities involving woodworking, food processing, metal processing, etc.
- Hot work: Welding, grinding, and any other activities that involves molten metals reaching temperatures up to 1,000°F or higher.
- Equipment + Machinery: Irregular maintenance, improperly installed machines, heat-producing equipment, etc.
OSHA Fire Prevention Plans
In order to proactively identify and remove these hazards, regular fire safety inspections and risk assessments. OSHA requires this through a written fire prevention plan that must be accessible to employees. Fire prevention plans must cover the following five elements, but employers can also include any additional information deemed necessary:
- Major fire hazards: All of the major fire hazards are identified along with instructions for how these hazards should be handled and stored.
- Flammable + combustible waste: A set of procedures must be in place to control accumulations of flammable or combustible waste materials.
- Maintenance of safeguards: A regular maintenance schedule for the safeguards installed on heat-producing equipment.
- Responsible maintenance parties: Name and/or job title of all employees responsible for maintaining the equipment used to prevent or control sources of ignition or fires.
- Parties responsible for fuel source hazards: Name and/or job title of employees responsible for controlling fuel source hazards.
Workplaces have a responsibility to evaluate their workplace of potential fire hazards and take appropriate measures to mitigate them under section 1910.39 from OSHA. These standards show employers how to reduce the risk of fire as well as how to ensure employees will be as safe as possible in the case of a fire.
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