According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fires and explosion accounted for 148 workplace deaths in 2013. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration shows that work-related fires and explosions in the U.S. account for more than 5,000 burn injuries each year. Fires can happen anywhere, and you need to have a plan in place for what to do if one occurs in your office.
Here are twelve essentials of a fire safety plan for a low-hazard workplace (a workplace that does not handle hazardous substances).
- Appoint supervisory staff with specified duties and responsibilities during an emergency.
- Create clear instructions for building occupants and staff for how to prevent fire and what to do in case of fire.
- Outline the method of training supervisory staff for fire emergencies.
- Outline the method and frequency of fire drills.
- Explain how fire hazards will be controlled.
- Explain detailed maintenance procedures for fire protection systems and building facilities.
- Create alternate fire safety measures in the event of a temporary shutdown of fire protection equipment or systems.
- Include floor plans that feature the type, location and operation of fire protection systems, access for firefighting, and all exit facilities.
- Provide detailed instructions for supervisory staff on the use of any emergency equipment — the voice communication system, the fire alarm system, smoke control system or emergency power supply system.
- Include procedures for evacuating building occupants who require special assistance.
- Include procedures for assisting the fire department in accessing the building and locating the fire. (It’s a good idea to post floor plans showing exit locations on each floor, if the workplace has multiple floors.)
- Implement an accountability system to ensure all building occupants are out of the building following an evacuation — including notifying the fire department of any missing occupants and their last known location.
Fire isn’t something to treat lightly or risk being unprepared for. You’ll want to make sure that your workplace is meeting all required safety regulations for fire prevention and protection. OSHA provides a helpful eTool to help low-hazard service or retail businesses implement an emergency action plan, which is accessible on their website.