Starting a new business comes with an assortment of important decisions and things to consider. Even after you nail down all the product or service related issues and concerns and hire the staff, the important aspects are far from over.
For a business to stay in operation for long, everything has to function optimally at all times, from the people and their relationships with each other and the business, to the documentation, operations, and most of all, safety.
Safety in business greatly depends on the kind of business you run, the place of operations, and the number of people that are usually on the premise. By far the most important safety issue to tackle is fire prevention in the workplace. This is directly associated with the will and care of the owner and the manager, as nothing can be done correctly if they are not on board.
Because of all this, it is up to you when fire prevention and fire safety mechanisms are in question in your new business establishment. To help you, we assembled a list of tips that will take your business to the next level in the sense of protection and employee security.
1. Assess the Risks
The first thing you should do to protect your business from a potentially devastating fire that could seriously hurt the company and the people is to assess the possible risks of fire hazards. There are detailed guidebooks for this in every town, and governments often have handbooks and other fire safety codes you can consult. However, just to make sure, it is smart to have your installation checked especially if you are dealing with an old building. Furthermore, in case you depend on numerous electrical and gas installments, have them all checked out by handymen and repairmen. This effort extends outside as well since you will have to clear out things that can get caught in with the wires like overgrown tree branches or unorganized equipment. Click here for more information on vegetation management and invasive weeds.
Fire equipment in the workplace comes in various shapes and forms. If you are renovating a place from the ground up, you will want to have most of these things installed. If you are building a brand new workspace, even better. Have the contractors install all the equipment that will keep the people and the equipment safe from a fire.
First of all, you will need an automated sprinkler system in place as the primary fire protection when a fire breaks out. These systems work best if there are also smoke detectors in every separate room to complement them. The best ones work together as one big safety unit. Lastly, a fire alarm is a no-brainer as it is something that will tell the people far away about your current emergency.
The second line of defense should be fire extinguishers, which should be present on each floor. Each employee needs to know where the closest extinguisher is at all times. The best are multipurpose extinguishers that are capable of putting out small fires on their own without messing up the electronics. Extinguishers should be regularly serviced and checked. The last thing you want in an emergency is a faulty tool that is supposed to save your life. Next to every extinguisher box could be a fire emergency kit with some water, a flashlight, and a couple of masks to battle smoke inhalation, as well as a first aid kit. On each floor, an evacuation plan for that specific floor should be printed out and attached to the wall.
All of the above is hardly worth it if the people themselves do not know how to behave in such a situation. This is countered with yearly fire hazard and safety training that each employee has to pass if they are to remain employed. Fire training consists of education on all things related to a possible emergency including where everything is, how one should behave, and what one should do. An escape plan is to be revised during each session and group tours of the premises are to be taken so that the training officer can point out the right emergency exits, fire alarms, extinguishers, and escape plan maps. A fire drill is the best thing you can do to prevent chaos and panic if the real thing ever happens. An office safety officer should be appointed as someone who will regularly check for faulty wiring and inspect the emergency and first aid kits. They are the ones to call 911 if a fire ever breaks out.
4. Space for Appliances
While you are still setting everything up, make sure that all of the electronics and appliances have enough room to be accessed from all sides and that there is enough airflow between them and the wall. Devices that regularly heat up like coffee machines, anything kitchen related, computers, and other office electronics all need a little bit of room in the back for the hot air to circulate. At the end of the workday, unplug everything that can be unplugged, or at least turn everything off. Remember that most workplace fires break out outside of the typical operating hours, which is also what makes them so devastating property wise as there is nobody there to react.
Order of Events
Now that you know how to protect your new business, it is time to determine what to do and in what order if you ever end up having to protect everything and everyone around you from a fire.
- Activate the fire alarm or yell “FIRE!” a couple of times to raise people’s awareness.
- Call 911 and get to safety, urging others to do the same. Take the closest fire extinguisher and first aid kit.
- Warm closed doors and handles indicate fire on the other side. Look for another way out. Never open such doors.
- If trapped, place wet towels underneath the doors and open all windows. Wave flashlights or bright clothes through the window while yelling for help to raise neighborhood awareness.
- In case you have to escape through smoke, get low and crawl since smoke goes up. Close all the doors behind you.
- Once out, do not leave the dedicated meeting place and make sure the 911 is on the way.