Top Causes of Fire in the Workplace

Fire isn’t necessarily the most common of accidents within the workplace, but if it happens, it can be deadly.  The devastation caused by flames ripping through your building can destroy years of work in only minutes.  The consequences of fires can be expensive for your company – the interruption to business with your premises potentially being uninhabitable, the cost of replacing stock and assets, not to mention the loss of valuable client records and information.

We have identified the most common causes of fire in the workplace, and what you can do to help prevent them.

Faulty electrics and electrical equipment

Loose wires, faulty connections, and overloaded plug sockets and extension leads can all result in electrical fires.  This type of fire is not just limited to office space; it can take hold in any work environment such as shops, warehouses, and workshops.  Because most businesses are reliant on even the smallest form of technology, there will always be the risk of unmaintained equipment becoming dangerous.

Business owners are legally required to take care of electrical equipment and regular PAT testing (portable appliance testing).  PAT testing is generally carried out between 12, 24 and 48 months depending on the type of equipment.  Because of the nature of electrical fires, these cannot be put out with water which makes them all the more hazardous.

It is imperative that you have the correct fire extinguishers installed by experts who will train you in their use.

Lack of training within your team

We all know that accidents happen through nobody’s fault. Equipment can burn out that is relatively new or in previously good working order.  Would you and your staff know how to deal with a fire at a moment’s notice? Or indeed, whether it could have been preventable in the first place.

If a fire should break out, it is essential that all staff are aware of the correct procedures.  As an employer it is your duty of care, and a legal requirement that your employees know the evacuation process.  Failure to comply could leave you with a lawsuit for negligence if the worst should happen.  You should appoint a fire safety monitor who will be responsible for taking any required remedial action (eg. the use of fire extinguishers) before the need for calling the emergency services.

Lack of Fire prevention equipment

The most basic of fire prevention equipment is the humble smoke detector.  It is, in most circumstances illegal to operate in a business premises without them. Maintenance and testing are essential to ensure they are in good working order at all times.

It is also a legal requirement in accordance with the Fire Safety Order to install the correct types of fire extinguisher suited to your business.  You may not be able to procure business insurance, or your current policy could be invalid without having a fire risk assessment carried out. Your assessor will advise you about the installation of fire extinguishers in appropriate areas of your building.  Your local Fire Safety company will be able to take care of this for you, one of the services which Swift Fire & Safety offer.

Incorrect storage of combustible materials

Failure to correctly store combustible and flammable materials is a huge contributor in the incidence of fires that could have been avoided.  For example, businesses that rely on power tools that could throw out sparks (welding or grinding equipment) should never have flammable materials close to the working areas.  The same can be said of chemicals which should never be near naked flames.

By ensuring that all materials are stored efficiently, the risk of fire is greatly reduced.  If your business holds large quantities of stock, such as paper products for example, it is essential that procedures are met, and that stock is stored immediately after delivery.

Negligence and/or human error

There are a number of scenarios whereby fire is caused by either negligence or human error.  Carelessly discarded items left close to heat sources, unattended food left to burn in the staff room or kitchen, cooling and fan vents on technical equipment blocked by office paraphernalia, using equipment incorrectly – the list is endless!  Every person in your employ should be responsible for their own health and safety and should be accountable for their actions, whether they are accidental or negligent.

Fire safety and Health and Safety courses are available and should be completed by your staff.  Your local fire safely officer will be able to help you find the appropriate course for your business which can often be completed online.

Arson

Sadly, arson is not as rare as we would like to believe.  Statistics suggest that over 45% of serious fires in the UK are caused by arson. Large industrial buildings and commercial businesses can be a target for vandals and other criminal activity.

Unfortunately, there is little that can be done to eliminate the risk of your business being targeted 100%, but there are measures that can be taken to make it less attractive to the criminal fraternity.  Identify where your building may be vulnerable and install a visible alarm system and CCTV.  These security systems are a considerable deterrent to would be criminals.

If you are concerned that these systems will not be enough of a deterrent, then an added layer of security could come in the form of an interior sprinkler system. Once activated, sprinklers greatly reduce the amount of damage caused if fire were to break out either by accident or criminal activity.

 

You can find out more about our Fire Extinguisher Installation and Maintenance services here.

What Are The Best Deterrents To Burglars?

If you have been the victim of a break in or burglary, you may be curious to know why you had been targeted.  What was it about your property that attracted the burglar?  After all, most thieves are opportunistic, so it may have been a spur of the moment break in.  Shockingly, research has revealed that almost a third of us have no security measures in place, so the most probable answer is that your security was either non-existent or simply wasn’t tight enough. There are in all likelihood a whole host of extra measures that could have been taken to send thieves running in the other direction.

If you are lucky enough not to have been the victim of a theft crime, but are still looking for ways to make your property more secure, there are several ways of doing so.  And what better way to know what deters potential burglars than to get inside the mind of one?  The Co-op conducted a survey of 12 former criminals to find out what makes them select a particular property when they’re looking for targets, and what would deter them from breaking in.

One of the top considerations on their list of deterrents were smart homes.  Technology is evolving at quite a rate, and is becoming more and more affordable as the market grows.  Most home owners could have a basic smart device installed at very little cost.  When you consider the inevitable hike in your insurance premiums in the event of a break in and a subsequent insurance claim, the cost is easily absorbed!  The Co-op found that 89% of ex criminals surveyed said that they would be deterred from targeting a home with smart technology.

There are several other factors that would deter opportunist thieves when selecting their next mark.

Here are our top 5 tips:

  1. Smile, you’re on camera!

CCTV cameras are pivotal in the fight against crime.  We see them literally everywhere on our streets, and the police rely on them daily to identify crime and its perpetrators. Amazingly though, only 14% of UK residents have them installed in their homes.  Perhaps the biggest deterrent for thieves, burglars and other criminals, why do more of us not look to CCTV to protect our homes?  Comparatively it’s more costly than other forms of home security, but it does add a means of identifying criminals, and provides evidence against any that are apprehended later.

  1. Light up!

Security lighting is an effective measure when it comes to protecting your home, particularly if the street lighting around your property is poor.  Very few burglars work in broad daylight, so make the night time hours as bright as possible, as they don’t want to be seen!  Whether you decide on lights timed to come on during certain hours of the night, or motion activated ones, they are all a deterrent.  If you’re going out, leave some lights on inside, and a TV or radio – the more occupied your home looks the better.

  1. Shut up!

How many of us don’t lock ourselves in when we’re at home?  Some burglaries happen when the property is occupied with thieves having gained entry through an unlocked door.  People who are particularly vulnerable should be extra cautious, especially if they are living alone.  Get into the habit of locking your doors when you come in as well as when you go out.

When we go to bed many of us sleep with the windows open?  It’s good to have well ventilated rooms, but it’s easy to forget to secure them the next day when we’re in a rush to get out to work.  Open windows are an invitation to would-be burglars.

Whenever possible have a car parked on the drive, and better still, install lockable gates at the entrance of your driveway.

  1. Be an attention seeker!

Criminals who are debating whether to burgle your house or not will not want to attract any unwanted attention.  If you have dogs, your furry friends could be the deal breaker!  Most thieves will not enter a property where there are barking dogs.  If you don’t have any pets, you can get motion sensors that play a recording of barking dogs. Coupled with ‘beware of the dogs’ signs, it might be enough to prevent a break in.

Burglar alarms have a dual purpose; the sight of the box situated on the house is usually enough to discourage a burglar, but in the event they gain entry anyway, the noise of the alarm will soon attract the attention of neighbours and passers-by.  Some more sophisticated alarm systems can combine smoke detectors and CCTV, giving you an all-in-one security system.

  1. Don’t be a virtual attention seeker!

It’s the age of sharing.  With almost infinite social media platforms to choose from, it’s easy for us to share everything that’s going on in our lives.  But do we really need to let everyone know what we’ve had for dinner, or the latest item of clothing we’ve bought, or that we’re jetting off to sunnier climes?  Holiday details shared online is like advertising the fact that your home is empty.