Being well-prepared for emergency situations is crucial, in both the home and workplace. Having the right tools and fire prevention equipment in place, like fire extinguishers and smoke alarms, is mandatory in all workplaces.
Often, this equipment can fall by the wayside and be neglected. However, in times of need, these emergency safety tools can save lives. It’s important to have this equipment inspected as often as you can. Here’s some tips for how to keep up the inspection process in your workplace.
One of the best ways to start a regular routine of fire prevention and safety is through workplace assessments. These are a list of materials and steps in your workplace that your office can make yourself or find through your local rules and regulations.
It’s likely that if your workplace already has any safety equipment in place, there’ll be a type of safety code available to you already. If your office hasn’t already, it’s necessary to perform workplace assessments as often as you can.
For example, if your workplace is a restaurant or food service, workplace safety assessments will have to happen every day, week, or month. This is why having a checklist is so important, as you can walk through everything and see if it’s in working order.
The City of Toronto highlights these key features when making sure the appliances in your workplace are in working order:
- “Use only CSA approved appliances.
- Leave enough space for the circulation of air around heaters and other equipment such as computer terminals and copy machines.
- Keep all appliances a safe distance from combustible materials.
- Always turn off or unplug appliances at the end of each day.”
It’s commonplace to perform regular inspections of your equipment, whether it’s every few days, weeks, or months. With your building manager or safety inspector, decide how often you should be inspecting equipment.
As well, don’t forget to replace your equipment if it’s out of date. Expired equipment is usually ineffective and won’t perform at top quality. For example, a fire extinguisher that hasn’t been used but is more than a few years old actually leaks overtime and won’t work as well in putting out small fires.
To check that equipment is up-to-date, look for the dates on the manufacturer’s labels for a date it was made and how long it can be used for. Keep a binder in the workplace where you can update and list that your fire prevention equipment has been inspected.
Workplace Safety and Prevention Services says to maintain a steady schedule for inspections:
“Establish a regular schedule of fire inspections. These will help detect any deviations from, or shortcomings in, your control standards and emergency procedures. Take corrective action as soon as possible. The information collected during your workplace assessment, and subsequent action taken, will help you to come up with your own
detailed checklist. Review and revise this checklist whenever you have the results of any incident/accident investigations involving fires that you have conducted, and each time you do a re-assessment.”
If there’s something that seems off, don’t be afraid to reach out for professional help. Their job is to ensure you have all proper, working tools in place to help you in case of emergency situations.
A professional who is trained in fire prevention and safety is very familiar with the equipment that’s needed in your space. They can make sure nothing is out of date and valves are inspected, air vents are clear, and can give you advice on how to make your emergency plan.
Thomas Maloney at Occupational Health & Safety magazine explains why establishing a fire code can foster a workplace culture of prevention:
“If the fire code did not address certain functions, then roads—for example—might have been built more restrictively and access would be limited, potentially jeopardizing the safety of the responders, employees and company property in a fire incident. Thus, the NFPA fire code advances fire and life safety for the private sector, workers and first-responders as well as the general public.”