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Safety in Work

Tips, advice and guidelines on fire safety in the workplace.

When it comes to fire safety in the workplace, three steps must be carried out:

  1. Look around your workplace and eliminate the hazards
  2. Install a fire detection and alarm system to give early warning
  3. Prepare an evacuation plan & practice it regularly

There are three types of fire safety controls:

  • Active controls
  • Passive controls
  • Management controls

Active controls

The purpose of active controls are:

  • To alert occupants to emergency conditions
  • To initiate emergency response
  • To enable occupants extinguish small fires
  • To ensure defined and visible route of escape
  • To ensure a constant supply of water

Equipment types include:

  • Fire detection & alarm systems
  • Escape/emergency lighting
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Hose reels
  • Hydrants
  • Fixed fire systems

Detection & alarm systems

  • Must be installed serviced and maintained to IS 3218:1989
  • Must be mains powered with battery backup
  • Fire alarm panel must be checked for faults daily
  • Weekly checks
  • Three monthly check by a competent person certified
  • 12 monthly check by a competent person certified
  • Retain records

Break glass units

Emergency lighting

  • Escape lighting
  • Must be installed serviced and maintained to IS 3217:1989
  • Inspect weekly
  • Three monthly check by a competent person certified
  • 12 month check by a competent person certified
  • Retain records

Emergency exit signs

S.I. no. 132,1995- Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Signs) Regulations, 1995

Fire extinguishers

  • Installed serviced and maintained in accordance with IS. 291- BS. 5306
  • Selection based on risk assessment by supplier
  • Should be positioned about one metre off the ground
  • Inspect monthly for evidence that they work
  • Test and inspect every 12 months by supplier
  • Discharge Test: 25%
  • Retain record of checks and servicing

Passive fire protection

Fire safety must taken into account when designing a building or changing the use of an existing building. Fire Safety Certificates are required for all building construction, alterations and extensions. Furnishings and fittings should satisfy required standards.

Fire doors

  • Stop the spread of fire and smoke for a period of time
  • A fire door cannot stop the spread of smoke and fire if it's open
  • Should be fitted with a self-closer
  • Must be kept shut - no wedges holding open
  • Can have electromagnetic hold-open device connected to fire alarm

Fire training

  • Statutory requirement to have staff trained
  • Training must be specific to your organisation
  • Training must be by a competent provider
  • It must be assessed and repeated regularly

Fire drills

  • Fire drills must be held a minimum of twice a year
  • Simulate one exit blocked by fire
  • Choose safe assembly area
  • A procedure must be put in place to ensure the premises is vacated
  • Keep a record & record any problems encountered

Record management

  • All workplaces must have a Fire Safety Register
  • Management functions
  • Assigned duties
  • Record of drills/evacuation
  • Inventory of fire protection equipment
  • Details of inspection & tests including certificates

Fire prevention

  • Give heat sources adequate space for heat to dissipate
  • Don’t overload electrical sockets
  • Turn off all electrical appliances after use
  • Avoid the buildup of papers and refuse
  • Store combustibles appropriately - not along escape routes and not under stairs
  • Maintain adequate means of escape
  • Keep escape routes clear of all obstructions

To summarise

  • Identify risks in your workplace and eliminate hazards
  • Install service and maintain a Fire detection and alarm system, along with emergency lighting
  • Provide, service & maintain fire extinguishers
  • Train staff and practice fire drills