Offices are hubs of creativity, ingenuity and team-work. They are the heart of a business, and of significant importance to all who work within them. Most staff haven’t undertaken the necessary fire safety training and aren’t aware of the common fire hazards found in an office. Minimising the risks associated with fires can lead to a safe and quick evacuation, which could ultimately save lives. But what are the most common fire hazards found in the office?
Plug sockets and extension cables can lead to fires, especially when overloaded. This occurs when too many appliances are plugged into a single socket using an extension cable. This can draw too much power to the socket, causing it to overheat.
Faulty wires carry the risk of an electric shock. The can cause sparks which will ignite fires in the dry office environment. Throw away any broken or exposed wires, and only buy trusted, certified brand cables.
A large number of office fires start when cooking appliances are left unattended, and electrical equipment is used improperly. Staying with your food in the kitchen whilst it’s cooking and ensuring everything is turned off after use will limit the possibility of a kitchen fire in an office.
Any desk filled with sticky notes, photos, papers and cards is a massive fire hazard. The large amount of combustible materials can lead to a build-up of dust, which further increases the chance of electricals overheating. It is advised to recycle or bin any items that are unneeded on a desk, and the same goes for any storerooms, cabinets and tables around the office. Less clutter means less hazards.
Portable heaters increase the risk of fires. Whether it’s a fan heater, an oil radiator, or an electric heater, each type is as dangerous as the next. Never leave a heater unattended and check that the appliance is certified before using or purchasing it. It is important to position it at least 3 feet away from any other object, and it should never be left unattended.
There are many ways to minimise the risk of fires in the office, and they are important to follow, to ensure that guidelines and safety procedures are being followed. Some office ‘dos’ include checking your electrical cables every 6 months, having regular PAT tests, tidying away papers, using trays to carry drinks and food, keeping exits clear, making evacuations plans, electing fire wardens and practising fire drills. There are also office ‘don’ts’, which include not overloading extensions, leaving appliances on after use, using unreliable cables and piling up paperwork.
74,118 building fires in England were reported between April 2017 and March 2018, with 34% being caused by misusing equipment. That means on average 69 building fires a day in England are a result of not using appliances correctly. It is important to know the hazards, and understand the best methods of minimising any risks, for the safety of your office.