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Workplace Safety

Workplace Safety



More than 5000 office fires happen annually, but good housekeeping can prevent a fire from happening or keep it from growing too quickly. Here are some simple steps to make your workplace safer:

  • Keep combustible materials (empty boxes, waste paper, dirty rags, cleaning supplies) away from exits, storage areas and stairways.
  • Make sure that wires and electrical cords are free from cracks, frays or any other damage.
  • Use of extension cords as means of permanent power should be prohibited. Temporary applications are permitted if they are used in a safe manner. Extension cords should not be plugged into each other. Also, avoid plugging more than one extension cord into an outlet.
  • Leave space for air to circulate around heat-producing equipment, such as copy machines, coffeemakers, and computers, and keep appliances away from anything that might catch fire.
  • Do not stack books or papers on top of computer monitors.
  • Designate an employee to turn off or unplug all appliances (including coffeemakers and hot plates) at the end of each workday.
  • If your company allows smoking in the workplace, smoke only where permitted. Don’t flick ashes onto floors or into wastebaskets.
  • Use large, non-tip ashtrays, and make sure everything in them is cold before you empty them.

Plan Ahead! It’s important that everyone knows what to do in the event of a fire.

Employees should:

  • Count the doors or desks between your work areas and the nearest exit. During a fire, you may have to escape in the dark.
  • Learn the location of alternative exits from all work areas.
  • Know the location of the nearest fire alarm and learn how to use it.
  • Post the fire department’s emergency number on or near your phone.
  • Be sure that someone in authority knows if you have a disability that could delay your escape and that they make special plans to help you.

Employers should:

  • Post building evacuation plans and discuss them during new-employee orientations.
  • Conduct regular fire drills.
  • Include disabled employees in the fire emergency planning process.

When a Fire Strikes

  • Sound the alarm and call the fire department, even if the fire looks small.
  • Leave quickly, closing doors as you go to contain the fire and smoke.
  • If you encounter smoke or flame during your escape, use another exit. Since heat and smoke rise, cleaner and cooler air will be near the floor. If you must exit through smoke, crawl on your hands and knees toward your exit, keeping your head in the “safety zone.” 1 to 2 feet above the floor.
  • Test doors before you open them. Kneel at the door; reach up as high as you can and touch the door, the knob, and the space between the door and its frame with the back of your hand. If the door is cool, open it slowly and be prepared to slam it shut if smoke pours in.
  • Follow the directions of fire and security personnel.
  • Once outside, move away from the building, out of the way of firefighters and stay out until the fire department says you may go back in.
  • In some high-rise buildings, the fire emergency plan requires that workers in areas not directly involved in the fire remain in the building until instructed otherwise by firefighters.

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