Friday, October 5, 2012

Can Your Business Answer "Yes" to These Fire Safety Questions?

In honor of Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 7-13), Cintas Corp. is providing safety and facility managers with a list of questions their businesses should ask--and be able to answer "yes" to--to ensure they are prepared for a fire.

1) Is there a written program regarding fire safety?

A written program provides an organized plan for safe procedures, customized to a facility. This should include outlines for emergency action plans, evacuation procedures, emergency response teams and any other pertinent information relating to fire safety in the facility. When regulations related to fire safety change, update written programs to reflect the changes.

2) Are employees protected against fire risks?
Arc flashes are sudden explosive electrical arcs that result in fire and injury. Wearing PPE such as flame resistant clothing (FRC), voltage gloves, face shields and leather work shoes can help protect employees exposed to arc flashes, flammable chemicals and other fire hazards. Ensure PPE is well-stocked and FRC is free of holes and tears.

3) Are fire alarms installed and working?

According to NFPA, fire alarms are often disabled because they are viewed as a nuisance. Safety directors should ensure all alarms are activated, in working order and have battery backup. Test them regularly and consider interconnecting all alarms so that the deployment of one alarm sets off all alarms in the building, alerting all building occupants.

4) Have employees completed a fire extinguisher training program?
OSHA regulations require employers to provide fire extinguisher training upon initial employment and annually thereafter. Training programs should identify classes of fires and techniques for fighting each type, PPE, fire evacuation routes and fire extinguisher use. Optimal fire training should include hands-on practice to let employees actually use an extinguisher.

5) Are fire extinguishers in working order?

Fire extinguishers should be inspected monthly, and more often in higher risk environments. This involves ensuring the units are not blocked, the pressure is at the recommended level and no container dents or chemical deposits are present on its surface. In addition to these quick checks, units need to be maintained and retagged annually. Partner with a server provider that will conduct thorough examinations and handle repairs, recharging or replacement.

6) Is the workplace prepared for other fire-related safety issues?

Electrical shocks can lead to fires and can also cause sudden cardiac arrest. It is important to have at least one automated external defibrillator (AED) available in the workplace in the event an employee’s heart falls into cardiac arrest. AEDs should be regularly inspected and workers must be trained to use them, as well as to properly perform CPR.

7) Are planned fire safety evacuation routes in place?

The theme of this year’s National Fire Prevention Week, “Have 2 Ways Out!,” focuses on fire escape planning. Businesses should identify and document several escape routes, conduct fire drills with employees to familiarize them with the routes and post the evacuation maps throughout common areas.

In addition, Cintas is offering a free online fire prevention course throughout the month of October 2012 for businesses to prepare for fire emergencies.