2021 should be the year in which workers across the UK return to the office. Among the many consequences of this trend will be an increase in accidents that take place in the office environment. Anything that can be done to pre-emptively examine and guard against this problem, therefore, will help to make the office a safer place to be.
Among the most dangerous hazards in the office are those which can cause fires. Let’s look at some of them, and what we might do to protect ourselves against them.
You might not think of an office kitchen as a place where fires can be generated. But microwaves, cookers and kettles, can all generate a potential fire hazard. If employees leave food to cook for a long enough time, then all the moisture will escape and the dried-out husk of whatever’s cooking will ignite. This danger is especially pressing in a traditional cooker.
Smoke alarms and fire-extinguishers provide a means of catching this problem before it has a chance of turning into a disaster. But a better approach is to encourage vigilance on the part of the workforce. Put up posters around the kitchen area reminding workers of their responsibilities.
The average office is bristling with electrical equipment, some of which can pose a fire hazard if it’s poorly maintained and getting on in years. Make sure that there’s adequate airflow around the rear of computer cases, and that cables are kept tidy. This latter step will also make life easier, and reduce the risk of trips and falls.
Portable appliances should be subjected to regular testing. This goes especially for electric heaters, which are called for especially in draughty old listed buildings, where workers might struggle to stay warm during the winter. Such appliances should be used appropriately, and never covered.
If your office is equipped with automatic window openers, like those provided by Rocburn, then you’ll be able to program them to behave in a certain way in the event of a fire, channelling a breeze through the office that will limit the spread. Sprinkler systems and fire doors might also help to buy time and limit damage – ensure that the latter are kept shut at all times.
Smoking is far less likely to be the cause of an office fire than it might have been in decades past. But it’s still worth taking precautions. Provide smokers with a dedicated bin in which to dispose of their spent cigarettes – that way the danger of the embers coming into contact with flammable wastepaper and other materials can be minimised.