Friday, April 01, 2011
Fire safety at work: Staying safe and injury-free
If a fire were to start while you were at work, would your company or office be ready to get everyone to safety? A minor fire in the workplace can quickly turn into a disaster. But a few precautions can help you reduce risks and protect you and your co-workers.
First, employers should make sure all employees are aware of the location of the emergency exits and fire extinguishers and that they know how to use them. Staff members should also know the fire evacuation route and where the safe meeting place is located. If your workplace has workers who are disabled, elderly or will need assistance when evacuating, make sure they are a part of your evacuation planning. If your business serves customers, such as a store or restaurant, incorporate evacuating the public into your planning. Regular fire drills are a must.
Before a fire occurs, it’s also a good idea to take some time and see if things are ship-shape around your workplace. Make sure exit lighting isn’t burned out and that stairways aren’t blocked. Be sure to check on fire extinguishers regularly to ensure they are not expired or have not been tampered with.
If a fire alarm goes off when you are at work, don’t wait to see if it’s a drill — exit immediately. If there’s smoke, crawl underneath it to reach the nearest exit, and cover your nose and mouth with a cloth. If you reach a closed door, use the back of your hand to feel the bottom, middle and top. If it is hot, do not open it; find another exit. When you have safely exited the building, do not re-enter until you receive the all-clear.
By being prepared and following evacuation advice, you and your co-workers can be better protected from injuries during a fire. Preventing injuries is the focus of this year’s observance of National Public Health Week, which has a theme of “Safety is No Accident: Live Injury-Free.” The event, to be held April 4–10, offers tips and guidance to help you promote living injury-free at home, at work, at play, on the move and in your community.