Preventing Fires in the Workplace

Do you know about the most common fire hazards in your industry? There could be more dangers than you think. Every year, it’s estimated that 80,000 workplace fires seriously damage businesses and injure workers. For 2015, we want to help you and your business recognize and avoid common business place fire hazards, which will help you and your employees be as safe as possible. Once you are aware of these three frequent fire risks, it’s much easier to avoid them later.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Oil Soaked Rags

When a fuel spill happens, reaching for a rag is probably your knee-jerk reaction. However, piles of oily rags become a very dangerous fire hazard in the workplace. Not only are the rags highly flammable, but in some cases piles of rags have been known to get so warm they ignite themselves.

Instead of using a rag to clean workplace spills, we suggest investing in a spill kit with a professional absorbent product. They’re much more efficient at cleaning spills than rags and, depending on whether or not the absorbent product meets your community’s waste disposal guidelines, they can be much easier to dispose of properly.

Old/Malfunctioning Equipment

How long have you been using the current machinery at your factory? If a machine is over a couple decades old, you might be working around a fire hazard. Old and malfunctioning pieces of equipment are more likely to give off sparks when in use. If these sparks land in the wrong spot, (such as a pile of oil soaked rags) you could have a fire on your hands that employees aren’t equipped to handle.

We suggest seriously considering a machinery upgrade. At the very least, be sure to keep old equipment clean and free of clutter in case of sparks. Lastly, complete regular safety evaluations to check wires and gears to be sure the machine is working properly.

Clutter

Even if you always remember to put your tools and materials away correctly, other types of clutter in the work area can act as fuel for a spreading fire. Files stacked on the floor and overflowing trash cans are just a few of the worst offenders. Professional organizers also agree that too much clutter can be a dangerous fire hazard to buildings.

We suggest really taking the time to clean up your area. A potential fire shouldn’t be getting help from your office when spreading throughout a building. Your stack of papers in the corner might look intimidating now, but after taking the time to go through them, you might find things you had forgotten about.
In addition to staying on the look out for these fire hazards, it is also important to have a clear safety plan in the event of a fire. All employees should be aware of where the fire alarms, fire extinguishers, and emergency exits are located throughout the building. Following these tips will help keep your organization fire free.

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How to Successfully Complete a Safety Audit

Safety is the most important issue in any workplace. If a worker doesn’t feel safe in his or her job, then they’ll be unable to focus on doing a good job – and will focus on avoiding injury instead. Not only does this not contribute to a productive work environment – it’s dangerous, and is likely a sign that your place of work is not up to date on current legal requirements.

Fortunately, periodic safety checks or safety audits of your business are an easy way to ensure that everything is running smoothly and that there are no hidden safety hazards. A lot of organizations shy away from safety audits, thinking that they are only searching for things that are going drastically wrong. But it doesn’t have to be that way! With the right attitude and intent, anyone can carry out a productive safety audit.

Image courtesy of Boris Dzhingarov of Flickr

Image courtesy of Boris Dzhingarov of Flickr

The goals of any audit are simple, and achieving these goals is especially easy if you continue to carry out regular safety audits. A truly productive safety audit should:

  • identify the risks, and the levels of severity of said risks, within the workplace
  • identify strengths and weaknesses in your safety procedures
  • assess whether your safety procedures are legally compliant
  • compare current documentation and practices against best practice and legal obligations
  • recommend improvements in your safety procedures
  • ensure that there adequate resources available to manage Occupational Health and Safety (OHS)
  • ensure that the resources devoted to health and safety are being utilized effectively

A safety audit can focus on one single activity, one segment of the organization or the overall status of the organization as a whole. It all depends on how you want to approach it.

How often should safety audits be held?

A full-on safety audit should be completed about once every 3 months. Since the process is a bit more in depth than a general safety check it doesn’t need to be done every month. However, a general safety inspection of work stations should be held weekly to ensure there are no minor safety hazards.

What specifically should you look for in a safety audit?

While you may want to add an item or two onto your site’s own safety audit list, a good audit will always check for each of the following common work hazards:

  • Safety hazards such as faulty machinery, unsafe work practices, unsafe conditions, etc.
  • Biological hazards such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc.
  • Chemical hazards. This is especially important if you are frequently handling chemicals and other dangerous liquids.
  • Physical demands/conditions on the worker such as continuous repetitions of a single action, awkward posture, weather, pressure, etc.

What sorts of things should I have written up after a safety audit?

At the end of a successful audit, you should have:

  • An updated tool inventory that highlights anyh tools or machinery at your worksite, and where they are each located; this helps to keep things in their correct place and make sure that they don’t go missing.
  • An updated chemical inventory that confirms chemicals are being stored safely, securely, and in a proper location on-site, where they won’t react to the other chemicals stored around. This is imperative since a chemical reaction can be one of the most dangerous accidents in the workplace.

While not necessarily a requirement, it’s also very helpful to have an updated diagram of the workplace at the end of every safety audit. A mapping of where everything is located can help mark where certain hazards are while moving through the facilities. That way, staff and coworkers alike have to waste time struggling to remember the location of certain safety hazards while on the job.

Safety audits are necessary for every business from office jobs to garages to factories. Every workplace should complete periodic safety checks to ensure that there are no hazards that could hurt someone or even damage expensive equipment. If you continue to complete these safety audits at regular intervals, you will breeze through them and reduce on-site injuries for your workers. However, if you become lax and neglect them for a while, they become harder to complete. Keep up to date on your safety and you definitely won’t regret it.

Sources Consulted

CCOHS

Health and Safety Handbook

3 Small Things That Make A Big Difference At Work

Springtime is strongly associated with an annual cleaning and clearing out of our homes. But our living area isn’t the only space that deserves a little extra attention. Given that we spend much of our lives in our workspace, it makes sense to give our place of employment a “spring cleaning” lookover, too.

This isn’t just something trendy that you can take part in, either. It’s important to do frequent checkups of your business and suss out any problem areas that need work. When small issue are left unattended, they can grow into bigger issues in the long run. But periodic reviews can keep quality up and prevent larger concerns from seeing the light of day. These are 3 simple things that you can examine during these reviews to upkeep the order in your workplace.

Value Worker Safety

First things first. Start with yourself. Make sure that you are following any and all safety procedures laid out by the company, by the manufacturers of the tools you use, and by overhead organizations such as OSHA. If you demonstrate that you take workplace safety seriously, your colleagues will follow your example. By making it a big deal you can establish that your organization is active in its workers’ safety which will encourage others to follow suit.

Find Ways to Improve Safety Measures

Even if you’re meeting safety requirements, that doesn’t mean you can’t do more to improve safety around your workplace overall. One thing you can do is assess your surroundings by taking a walk around the perimeter of your work floor. Are there things hiding in corners that shouldn’t be? Take a moment to notice obstructions and clutter. When you take notice of these things, your coworkers will take that into consideration and will take note themselves in the future.

You should also spend time with your employees and coworkers to brainstorm solutions to safety concerns. There might be something that you may not have thought of or a problem that you hadn’t noticed. By getting others’ perspectives, you can give yourself a different mindset, which can help you solve safety issues that you might not have even realized were a problem.

Praise Your Team

From a management standpoint, a happy team is a productive one. Take time out of each week or month to meet with the leaders of each team, or with each of the teams as a whole, and get reports on how they are progressing. Give commendation when it is deserved and give advice when it is necessary. Remember: when workers are acknowledged for their hard work, they are more likely to continue the good work in the future.


While you may feel that these 3 things would be a waste of company time, we believe scheduling time to evaluations such as these will save both time and money. When allowed to deteriorate, the state of your organization can easily fall out of tune.  But regularly following these 3 pieces of advice, and taking recurrent reviews of the workspace, you can can often prevent problems that may arise from neglect down the line. Ultimately, it’s much simpler to keep the quality of work high by investing more in it now than later.

Staying Fire Free In The New Year

Do you know about the most common fire hazards in your industry? There could be more dangers than you think. Every year, it’s estimated that 80,000 workplace fires seriously damage businesses and injure workers. For 2015, we want to help you and your business recognize and avoid common business place fire hazards, which will help you and your employees be as safe as possible. At SpillFix, we believe once you are aware of these three frequent fire risks, it’s much easier to avoid them later.

Oily Rags

When a fuel spill happens in your shop, reaching for a rag is normally the first thing that comes to mind. However, piles of oily rags become a very dangerous fire hazard in the workplace. Not only are the rags highly flammable, but some piles of rags have been known to get so warm they ignite themselves.

Instead of using a rag to clean workplace spills, we suggest investing in a spill kit with a professional absorbent product. They’re much more efficient at cleaning spills than work rags and, depending on whether or not the absorbent product meets your community’s waste disposal guidelines, they can be much easier to dispose of properly.

Old/Malfunctioning Equipment

How long have you been using the machinery at your factory? If a machine is over a couple decades old, you might be working around a fire hazard. Old and malfunctioning pieces of equipment are more likely to give off sparks when in use. If these sparks land in the wrong spot, you could have a fire on your hands that employees aren’t equipped to handle.

For the new year, we suggest seriously considering upgrading your machinery. At the very least, be sure to keep old equipment clean and free of clutter in case of sparks. Lastly, check wires and gears continuously to be sure the machine is working properly.

Clutter

Image courtesy of http://behind.ustream.tv/

Image courtesy of http://behind.ustream.tv/

Even if you always remember to put your tools and materials away correctly, other types of clutter in the work area can act as fuel for a spreading fire. Files stacked on the floor and overflowing trash bins are just a couple of the worst culprits. Professional organizers also agree that too much clutter can be a dangerous fire hazard to buildings.

We suggest really taking the time to clean up your area this year. A potential fire shouldn’t be getting help from your office when spreading throughout a building. Your stack of papers in the corner might look intimidating now, but after taking the time to go through them, you might find things you forgot existed.

In addition to staying on the look out for these fire hazards, it is also important to have a clear safety plan in the event of a fire. All employees should be aware of where the fire alarms, fire extinguishers, and emergency exits are located throughout the building. Following these tips will help you stay fire free in the new year.

Does Your Absorbent Product Help Address Fire Safety?

“Stop, drop and roll!”

Adults everywhere recognize this mantra from fire safety lessons they attended as children. When it comes to fire safety, people usually learn how to address a potential fire from a young age, including how to identify and remove fire hazards around their homes.

 

Unfortunately as adults the rules of fire safety become more complicated. It may not be possible to remove or replace flammable items in the workplace with nonflammable or less flammable substitutes that get the job done, effectively and safely.

As a result, people in certain fields are required to work with potentially flammable substances. Just a few examples of spillable flammable substances often found on worksites include:

  • gasoline
  • paint solvents
  • lighter fluid
  • certain cleaning agents
  • butane
  • pesticides
  • oils
  • propane
  • diesel fuel

While flammable liquids will not burn while in liquid form, the problems begin when the liquids begin to evaporate, creating vapors that can be ignited. Once in gaseous state, ignition sources such as sparks from faulty wiring or the embers of a cigarette can quickly create a fire emergency. Because of this, in the event of a flammable liquid spill workers must be ready to respond promptly and efficiently to properly clean and control the spill.

Typically in the event of a flammable substance spill, workers need to use absorbent products and then properly collect the used absorbent items in sealed containers. The cleaning process also calls for close attention to the types of containers and bags used to store used absorbents in these cases, to make sure that the storage items in question won’t accidentally create a spark. Why? Because often, absorbent products leak the materials they absorb – and when flammable materials leak and evaporate, heat and ignition sources can quickly cause a fire.

Fortunately, some absorbent product companies are taking this into consideration when they create their absorbent products. The result is a line of safer absorbent products that effectively contain spilled flammable liquids. SpillFix, for example, properly contains absorbed spills without leaks; SpillFix is also unlikely to catch fire after absorbing flammable spills. So while any absorbent product should be used with caution when absorbing flammable spills, it’s good to know that products like SpillFix exist and can help workers across the nation address the ever important issue of fire safety.

The absorbent product used on a worksite is just the beginning of necessary fire safety procedures. What other steps have you taken to address fire safety at work? Let us know in the comments!

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