Electrical Fire Safety. Electrical fire safety concerns, which are
commonly encountered during safety audits, include exposed
wiring, ungrounded outlets or equipment, and misuse of extension cords and multi-plug adapters.
It is far from rare for safety professionals to find a daisy
chain of electrical cords in the workplace, with extension cords
and strip plugs misused as permanent wiring from one power
outlet. Extension cords should be used for temporary applications only. They can become damaged when improperly run
under doors, across floors, and through walls. Access to electrical panels should not be blocked, and only a qualified electrician should perform electrical work.
Laboratories. Labs must establish a written chemical safety
program that includes chemical training, use, storage, labeling,
first aid, spill response, and other safety topics. Containers of
flammable chemicals should be stored in appropriate flammable
cabinets, correctly labeled, and segregated so that incompatible
chemicals have a low risk of contacting each other. A properly
operating fume hood can provide ventilation of flammable
fumes and vapors from operations involving relatively small
volumes of chemicals. Chemists and laboratory workers should
be trained on how to handle highly hazardous materials, such
as flammable, unstable, explosive, and pyrophoric substances.
Hazardous Materials and Processes. The use and storage of
hazardous materials and hazardous processes are regulated in
detail. The following list includes, but is not limited to, common workplace fire hazards:
• Hazardous materials
• Fuel dispensing
• Spraying, dipping, and coating with flammable and combustible materials
• Commercial cooking
• Industrial ovens and furnaces
• Forklift battery storage and recharging
• Storage of flammable and combustible liquids
• Compressed flammable gas cylinders
If your workplace contains these or other specifically regu-
lated fire hazards, a detailed fire risk assessment, including
compliance with applicable fire protection and prevention codes
and regulations, is needed.
The Office. General recommendations include discouraging
and/or implementing a safety policy for space heaters. Discourage or prohibit holiday candles in the workplace. Make sure
well-maintained cooking appliances are used and operated only
in the workplace kitchen. Keep kitchen areas clean of food
residue and paper waste.
Ignition Sources. Permitted smoking areas should be located far
from flammable or combustible materials. Flammable and combustible materials must be stored and used away from ignition
sources such as open flames, hot surfaces, electrical equipment,
sparks, and static electricity.
Fire Plans and Procedures. Managers must make sure that all
employees are familiar with the emergency fire plans and
procedures in the event of an emergency fire evacuation.
Procedures should include persons with special needs.
Start Your Fire Protection Library
Publications referenced for this article can be the start of your
fire protection and prevention library. OSHA provides employee fire safety regulations. NFPA publishes numerous fire
standards and codes, which may have been incorporated by
reference by your AHJ.
• 29 CFR 1910 Subparts E, H, and L
Available at www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owastand.display
• Combustible Dust in Industry: Preventing and Mitigating
the Effects of Fire and Explosions (SHIB 07-31-2005)
Available at www.osha.gov/dts/shib/shib073105.html.
• NFPA 1, Fire Code, 2009 Edition.
• NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, 2009 Edition.
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