New Year’s Resolution Lower Your Site’s Fire Risk Profile (Part 1)

It’s said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and that’s relevant to workplace fire prevention. Lowering your site’s risk profile calls for planning and execution. A fire prevention and management plan is not something to leave to chance.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations (29CFR 1910.39) require facilities to have a Fire Prevention Plan that is a written document the company reviews and keeps current. The benefits of having a Fire Prevention Plan are much greater than simply meeting an OSHA requirement, it can actually save lives and property.  That said, OSHA requirements of a Fire Prevention Plan are as follows.

For one, a Fire Prevention Plan must be in writing, be kept in the workplace, and be made available to employees for review. However, an employer with 10 or fewer employees may communicate the plan orally to employees.

Additionally, a fire prevention plan must include:

  • A list of all major fire hazards and potential ignition sources and their control
  • Proper handling and storage procedures for hazardous materials
  • The type of fire protection equipment necessary to control each major hazard
  • Procedures to control accumulations of flammable and combustible waste materials
  • Procedures for regular maintenance of safeguards installed on heat-producing equipment to prevent the accidental ignition of combustible materials
  • The name or job title of employees responsible for maintaining equipment to prevent or control sources of ignition or fires
  • The name or job title of employees responsible for the control of fuel source hazards

An employer must inform employees upon initial assignment to a job of the fire hazards to which they are exposed. An employer must also review with each employee those parts of the fire prevention plan necessary for self-protection.

The plan will vary according to the nature and type of the worksite, but generally speaking, it should focus on the fire triangle. Fire requires the presence of a fuel source, an ignition source, and a substance that supports combustion — usually oxygen. To prevent fires, the plan should control or eliminate one or more of the three elements of the fire triangle.

It should also be mentioned that the plan should be a living and breathing document. Hence, it’s critical and necessary to review and update the fire prevention plan after any significant change(s) in operations, building use and/or expansion. The same can be said of personnel changes. Such training needs to be integrated into new hire onboarding as well as regular all-staff educational sessions.

Keep watching this site for what to do if your Fire Prevention Plan fails to prevent all fires.  That calls for an Emergency Action Plan that helps your staff respond effectively.  In the worst-case scenario, you should also be ready with a Crisis Management Plan to handle details.  My next blog will address these matters.

In safety, Kenn

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