Office Fire Risks and Hidden Hazards

Posted by: CMR October 5, 2020 No Comments

Office fires can be equally devastating for both the employees and employers. Even if no one gets hurt, the damages could take the business offline. The impacts of a commercial fire can range from business incapacitation to inventory loss.

As most businesses cannot afford a shutdown period, it is important to consider certain precautions to ensure the smooth functioning of the business.  Identifying the potential and common office fire hazards and thinking ahead can help you ensure that your business doesn’t suffer any unwanted offline time.

Damaged power cords

Offices usually house a wide array of electrical equipment ranging from computers to microwaves. Consistent usage of these devices could lead to exposure and eventual wear out of electrical wires. On most occasions, the fact that even a simple wire exposure can trigger a spark, which can second major fire, is overlooked.

Follow these strategies to contain the risk from damaged power cords:

  • Ensure all the wiring used or replaced during maintenance meets a minimum standard
  • Inspect commercial electrical connections including power sockets and wiring cases at least once a year

Combustible materials

Combustible materials including paper and bin liners can play a big role in spreading office fires. These materials are most often required and hence cannot be completely removed or banned in the offices. Considering this, it is ideal to enforce certain precautionary measures to prevent fire mishaps.

  • Office waste collected on a should be taken out on a daily basis
  • Enforce a clean desk policy which requires the employees to store away loose papers and files in cabinets unless required
  • Create awareness among the employees regarding the safe use of cleaning liquids and aerosols
  • Be vigilant when choosing furniture for the office, choosing fireproof furniture is a good start. When it comes to choosing couches or soft furnishings ensure that they meet the legislation on fire-resistant materials and manufacture

Blocked walkways and fire escapes

On occasions, you would observe the fire escapes used to store cartons of unused furniture or other office properties. Ensure that the walkways and fire escapes are free of obstacles.

Educate the employees about the consequences of such actions and encourage them to follow the safety guidelines to prevent the unwanted.

Overloaded outlets and extension cords

Overloaded outlets and extension cords are one of the most commonly overlooked office fire hazards.

Used in every working environment, extensions are usually bent beyond their capacity, especially when plugged to multiple high voltage devices.  This leads to excess heat flow and sparks and eventually garner a fire that can spread in a matter of minutes.

Personal heaters

Using personal heaters at the workplace is common. Some offices may not have control of such electrical devices as they are bought by the employees. This can pose several risks:

  • The employees can end up buying cheap products that run on low-quality wiring
  • The employees can even forget to turn their equipment off at the end of the day
  • Some cheap heaters might lack the auto turn off feature when tipped over

All these present a risk of fire and can turn out to dangerous in any office environment.

Hidden fire cleanup hazards

When your business has suffered a fire, you might be compelled to return to the property for an initial inspection. Such situations can always pose several health and safety hazards some of them include:

  • Fallen or damaged power lines which is still active
  • Unstable structures, especially walls and roof tiles
  • Fire extinguishers and LP gas tanks damaged from fire and heat
  • Ruptured or damaged materials consisting of asbestos

Preventing an office fire at any cost should be the priority. Keep in mind that the cost involved in prevention is much lower than the recovery cost.

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Author: CMR

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