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5 Tasks HR Managers Can Do to Ensure Safety in Your Workplace

Fatalities from non-residential fires have been rising, with a concerning 22% increase this decade. A fire in your workplace can be catastrophic, affecting your employees’ safety and causing property damage. 

Workplace safety is one of the main duties of an HR manager. Still, with so many tasks and a whole workplace to manage, fire safety may not seem a priority to you, but you can prevent a catastrophic fire with proper training, preparation, and equipment. 

Remember that fire management is one of the most critical aspects of risk management. As an HR manager, here are five tips to put into practice immediately for fire prevention in your workplace to ensure your employees’ safety and prevent property damage. 

1. Hire a Fire Marshal

Your priority in fire safety should be assigning someone with relevant skills and experience to oversee fire safety. Fire marshals or wardens help avoid fires, tackle small fires and evacuate in case of a big fire. You may need to assign an entire team of such if your workplace is large. Preferred candidates for such positions are usually employees with positions of authority like safety manager, human resources manager, or office manager. The fire warden’s tasks include:

  • Raise awareness about fire hazards 
  • Evaluate fire risk control measures to prevent any emergencies
  • Organizing fire drills
  • Plan and improve strategies for emergency fire situations in the workplace 
  • Report any risk areas and make sure it’s fixed
  • Teach employees how to report and respond to any emergencies
  • Ensure the evacuation route is always clear
  • Assist disabled staff in evacuation

Having a fire warden will ensure that you can prevent fires and are aptly prepared to deal with them if they occur.

2. Schedule Regular Assessments of Fire Risks in Your Workplace

A huge fire can be prevented by keeping an eye on high-risk areas. The most common fire hazards at the workplace include cooking and electrical equipment, heaters, and smoking materials. 

Ask the fire marshal you appointed to identify these places with these risks and report to you regularly. Enquire about their plans to fix the issues that can cause fires, and teach employees how to use them safely and identify issues on time.  

The most high-risk area for workplace fires are kitchens, which are reported to be responsible for one-fifth of workplace fires. Train everyone to keep a close eye on the areas with those risks and make rules for the workplace to mitigate the consequences of fire, such as: 

  • Storing flammable material properly 
  • Installing a proper smoke alarm 
  • Bolting down items that can cause fires if knocked over, like heaters
  • Keeping sources of ignition like naked fire or sparks away from substances burn like dust and vapors 
  • Getting a surge protector for all your electrical plugs to prevent electrical fires from spreading 
  • Banning smoking in the workplace or making it necessary to dispose of cigarettes in metal containers containing water; an improperly-disposed  cigarette can smolder for hours and then cause a fire 
  • Banning flammable items and high-risk activities, like smoking 
  • Conducting regular electrical inspections on equipment in the risk area
  • Replacing all faulty and frayed wires 
  • Avoiding overloading plug sockets 
  • Asking employees to notify you if they notice any risks

3. Arrange Workshops in Fire Safety Equipment Use and Maintenance

The fire detection system is the best defense against a fire in your workplace, so it should be well-maintained. Ensure that your workplace has the appropriate number of extinguishers available and they are all in working condition. They can also get a professional to inspect or install your fire extinguishers, as portable fire extinguishers need professionals, according to most area laws like the Texas Administrative Code. 

Alternatively, HR managers can take HR analytics courses online to learn valuable skills and knowledge, such as how to identify safety trends and how to allocate safety resources where they’re most needed. 

4. Design Signage

A fire extinguisher isn’t the only equipment you’ll need in case of a fire. You need to add other safety protocols in place, like signs. Add these five signs in your office so everyone knows what to do in an emergency:

  1. Signs over all the fire exit doors, routes, and assembly areas 
  2. A fire action notice with what to do in case there is a fire
  3. Signs showing the locations of the fire extinguishers
  4. Prohibition and warning signs of smoking in risk areas with “No Smoking.”
  5. An office evacuation plan map 

5. Educate Your Employees On Fire Safety and Emergencies 

Fire safety is your workplace’s legal obligation that can prevent injuries and save lives. And an HR manager must take care of the employees, and you must do everything to ensure that.

Educate all the employees on fire safety and how to respond in an emergency. Make a fire prevention plan for your employees, which should include an explanation of points like: 

  • All the fire hazards in the workplace 
  • Handling and storing flammable materials
  • Locations of emergency exits and fire extinguishers 
  • Handling of fire extinguishing equipment 
  • Potential electrical ignition sources and how to control them 
  • Items they should take in fire, like cellphones, and avoid taking others 
  • Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEP) for employees that need extra assistance while evacuating the building in an emergency
  • Information about the fire warden of the office, theirs, and the firefighters’ contact information 
  • The designated assembly point in case of an emergency 

Your plan should work for all employees regardless of age, sex, or mental or physical ability. Organize fire drills with the fire marshal and ensure no employee skips them, as this information can save their life.

Proper fire safety training can make your employees understand fire risks and the catastrophes fires can cause.

This will make them more thoughtful with their actions and make them take actions to lower the fire risk. 

Endnote 

As an HR manager, it is important to focus on fire safety to prevent a catastrophe from happening. Assign a fire warden who should be responsible for fire safety and emergencies and make them assess all the risk areas and equipment in your workplace that can cause a fire and keep a close eye on those.

The fire marshal should also maintain your fire equipment regularly. Most importantly, educate your employees on fire safety so everyone can be prepared for emergencies. 

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