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Burn Awareness Week: Prepare Your Workplace for Fire

By Jeff Woods

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear someone yell “Fire!?”

If the response is a sense of panic, it might be time to assess the risk of fire in a workplace, develop an emergency action plan, and train employees to be prepared in the event of disaster. And, given that it’s Burn Awareness Week, there’s no better time to review your efforts and take steps toward a safer workplace.

First, safety managers should assess the risk of fire in the workplace. Most safety professionals implicitly understand the fire triangle—heat, oxygen, and fuel—all of which is needed for fire to exist. In turn, employees throughout a facility must consider the fire triangle and how it could apply to their work area. For instance, manufacturing equipment should be kept separate from paper goods, lowering the risk of fire. Keeping work areas free of fire hazards such as paper waste and flammable liquids can greatly reduce the chances of a fire starting.

Companies should have an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) in place before disaster strikes. The EAP should be a comprehensive, written plan that covers each step to be taken by management and employees if a fire causes workplace evacuation.

Visual communication can help prepare employees in the event of fire. Here are a few ways signs and labels can prepare workers for a workplace emergency:

  • Post the EAP with a sign showing the evacuation routes throughout a workplace
  • Display lighted “EXIT” signs, as well as fire and egress signs that are clearly visible in low light and smoke-filled atmospheres
  • Apply phosphorescent floor tape and glow-in-the-dark markings to lead employees out of harm’s way and toward the closest exit in case smoke envelops a workplace

Training is of the utmost importance, as well. Part of any facility’s evacuation training should also include assignments for employees to check rooms for remaining workers and to close doors and turn off equipment that could cause the fire to spread before the fire department can arrive.

All of the training, regular drills, and knowledge of what fire requires to exist will come back to prepared workers in emergencies. This knowledge will allow them to react with confidence that may save their lives, as well as the lives of their fellow employees.

Looking to improve safety in your workplace? PathFinder floor marking, wayfinding, and safety tape by Graphic Products can warn, direct, and support employees in case of emergency. The selection includes reflective, glow-in-the-dark, and heavy duty tapes.