Fire can create huge destruction in the workplace. If it’s not too bad, it causes minor injuries or none at all. If it’s a major one, it results in serious injuries and even fatalities. In reality, it’s impossible to completely get rid of fire hazards in your worksite. But that’s not to say that you can’t utilize fire safety measures. Workplace fires injure many workers each year.  Between 2011 and 2015, more than 9,400 employees were injured by occupational fires according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Their injuries lead to untold tumult, disrupting their lives and their families.  Even in those fortunate cases where no one is injured, the property damage caused by fire can be enough to bankrupt many businesses.  The National Fire Protection Association estimates that fires cost industrial and manufacturing employers alone over $1 billion in property damages each year; when the costs for lost business and shutdowns is factored in, we can easily understand why so many businesses shut their doors forever following a significant fire.

Therefore, fire prevention plans, procedures, and training are vital for employee safety, and for the long-term viability of any business.  If your company doesn’t have a fire prevention plan in place, you should review and prioritizing fire protection in the workplace.


1. Implement a program that includes preparation, prevention, and recognition of fire hazards.
2. Make sure you practice proper handling of combustible and flammable material.
3. Maintain safe housekeeping practices that reduce the risk of fire danger.
4. Always keep adequate fire suppression equipment in your work area to extinguish fire before it goes out of control.


The following are general safety measures in establishing and maintaining fire protection in the workplace:

  • Never pile or lay material in a way that it covers or blocks access to firefighting equipment.
  • Make sure to use only approved containers for the separation and disposal of combustible refuse. Remember to always replace the lid.
  • Never store flammable materials within 10 feet of a building or other structure.
  • Stack and pile all materials in orderly and stable piles.
  • Never let unnecessary combustible materials get accumulated in any part of your work area.
  • Make a periodic clean-up of entire work site and keep grass and weeds under control.
  • Regularly dispose of combustible debris and scrap from your work area.
  • Use only approved containers and tanks for storage, handling, and transport of combustible and flammable liquid.
  • Always perform evaluation procedures before performing operations that present fire hazards like welding.

MORE FIRE SAFETY MEASURESFire extinguishers are commonly used as fire suppression equipment. You may also add fire hoses to your emergency box/glass in the workplace. Here are guidelines you must follow in using fire equipment:

  • First, inspect and maintain firefighting equipment regularly.
  • Place an adequate number of firefighting equipment in plain view in your work areas. When appropriate, label the location of each one and make sure it is properly rated.
  • Provide employees with proper training in fire prevention and protection.
  • Prohibit smoking at or around work areas where fire hazards are present. Put up signs, saying NO SMOKING or OPEN FLAMES.
  • Configure an alarm system that consists of both visual and audible signals (bells, sirens, whistles, blinking lights


Portable fire extinguishers are not a one-size-fits-all tool.  The company must provide ones that are appropriate for the types of anticipated fires.  Water or carbon dioxide based extinguishers would both be appropriate for wood fueled fires; however, water would cause an intense explosion if used on sodium or potassium.  Selecting the correct portable fire extinguisher for the anticipated fire is an essential component of the fire prevention plan.


Damaged and drained extinguishers do more harm than good.  An employee who relies on one to extinguish a fire is much more likely to be injured.  To prevent this from happening, extinguishers must be visually inspected monthly, including their hoses.  OSHA standards don’t specifically require that these inspections be documented; however, some employers have had a hard time proving that monthly inspections occurred without it.  It’s a good idea to document the visual inspection on the extinguisher’s tag, just to be safe.

Annual maintenance checks are also required.  These must be documented, and the record kept for one year after the last entry or the life of the shell.


If fire extinguishers are provided for employee use, then employers must provide an educational program to familiarize them with the general principles of fire extinguisher use and the hazards of fighting incipient stage fires.  That training must emphasize that extinguishers cannot be used for large fires.  Employees must be educated on fire extinguisher use when they are first hired, and re-educated annually.
If your emergency action plan designates employees to use firefighting equipment, they must be trained when they are first designated, and re-trained annually.
It should be evident that fire prevention requires careful planning and preparation.

An employee armed with a portable fire extinguisher can stop a fire in its incipient stage before it becomes a catastrophic conflagration – as long as employers do their part to educate employees and inspect, maintain, and test the fire extinguishers.

Article by Ediae Darlington . O

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