Fires at work have an overwhelming impact on businesses and their employees in terms of serious injuries, damage to property, or even death. Numerous factors could be the reason why fires break out.
Most of these are due to human errors and could be preventable if proactive approaches are implemented at work.
So, this article will walk through to investigate the key reasons for fires and their dangers at work, specifically the use of paper and cardboard in office environments, and what control measures can help mitigate the risk.
Major Causes of Fires at Work
As discussed earlier, workplace fire can have devastating effects on people and property causing various fatalities and injuries to staff members while destroying businesses and buildings.
The common reason to be seen for fire hazards is electric faults, as per the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), however, the use of paper and cardboard also remains the top reason for various fires to occur.
Let us dive deep into other factors that may increase the risk of fires in a working environment.
1. Faulty Equipment
Faulty equipment is seen to be one of the main causes of dangerous fires at work. Defective wires and overheated equipment are seen to produce serious risks. To overcome this risk, employers are required to regularly inspect their electrical equipment to identify potential dangers.
2. Paper & Cardboard Consumption
Paper and cardboard boxes also remain the major reason for fire hazards within the workplace. as this ubiquitous material is still used on a daily almost everywhere.
Nearly 440 million tons of paper are used every year worldwide and the amount of use is expected to be doubled by the year 2060. It raises the concern that the amount of waste material will also be doubled by its increasing use.
When talking about office environments, 45% of paper is thrown away by offices in a single day. This may be an alarming situation for most workplaces, as waste and combustible materials can easily ignite a fire.
With that being said, it is a common topic of debate, that:
Are Paper or Cardboard Boxes a Danger in Offices?
Cardboard boxes are extremely useful items for storing things and the additional benefit they offer is that they are reusable as well as recyclable. However, the one major concern most people have with the use of cardboard is they are a potential source of dangerous fires.
So are they a hazard, below are some points to show it:
- Having a lot of cardboard grouped could be a serious risk
- Storing the boxes in hot places makes them extremely dry and so they can catch the fire easily
- Extreme heat, flames, or sparks can add to the risk of fires
Other causes of workplace fires include:
3. Human Error
Human errors may also be a common cause of increasing the dangers of office fires. Using the electrical equipment incorrectly, not reporting the faulty machinery, and leaving the flames unattended are some of the factors of increased fire dangers in offices.
4. Dust & Debris
When talking about fire safety, dust, and debris are also the major reasons for fires. This requires businesses to have proper ventilation systems in their buildings to keep the environment clean and fresh and to avoid any risk.
How to Prevent the Danger of Office Fires?
Below are some ways to prevent the risk of danger on the work premises:
1. Maintain the Electrical Equipment
To maintain electrical equipment in the office environment, employers need to conduct a regular risk assessment of their work areas. This includes testing electrical devices such as computers, laptops, printers, or other equipment. PAT testing is an effective approach in this regard to analyze the risk.
2. Keep the Workplace Clean & Tidy
Implementing good housekeeping practices are also essential to mitigate the risk of fires at work. A clean and tidy workplace automatically reduces the risks of accidents and injuries leading to a healthy and productive workplace.
3. Incorporate Workforce Training
Alongside the above-mentioned steps, adequate staff training is also a plus in minimizing the dangers of fires at work. This includes educating the workforce by providing them with fire awareness training, fire risk assessment training, and electrical safety training to make them aware of safety risks and preventive approaches.
In the end, fires can leave an overwhelming effect on businesses, people, or buildings if proper arrangements are not implemented or the risk of danger is ignored. Employers can play their part by assessing their workplaces for potential risks and integrating preventive approaches along with educating their staff members.
Employees are also required to listen to their employers and managers to corporate for ensuring better safety for themselves and others around them to create a safe and secure workplace for everyone to live and work in.