Why we should learn the lessons of UK Business Safety Week all year round

Why we should learn the lessons of UK Business Safety Week all year round

In the week chosen by the Chief Fire Officers Association to highlight the dangers to businesses from fire, one fire in Suffolk damaged five businesses and made 20 people homeless. Fire and Safety Centre advocates learning fire protection lessons all year round.

Fire Extinguisher

No-one goes to work intending to be hurt. Much less do they go to work intending to be trapped in a fire. And yet it still happens, as illustrated by the devastating fire in Sudbury this week that destroyed or damaged 11 properties and the five businesses and 20 people that lived in them.

The blaze, which tore through a manor house almost 250 years old, could hardly have been timed better to illustrate the dangers of fire, since it happened on the first day of UK Business Safety Week, running to September 13th.

This is the week the country’s Chief Fire Officers Association has designated as the week in which they want all businesses, from the one-man band to the multinational, to reduce the risk from fire to their staff, their premises, their resources and even their lives.

The CFOA says it has chosen this week as a turning point in the year, when companies start taking on extra staff ahead of the Christmas season, larger volumes of stock arrive, and the pace of business shifts.

It may be that individual businesses see the danger of fire as a low priority in terms of day-to-day operations. They rarely see a fire, have the majority of employees who have never discharged a fire extinguisher, and think it could never happen to them.

That’s exactly the myth the CFOA wants to dispel, because over the last 10 years it has happened every day in the UK to an average of ten places where people work. Statistics suggest that another ten will be added to that list today. Here’s how to make sure yours isn’t one of them.

Ten key steps towards fire safety

1. Never lock or block fire exits

2. Site extinguishers in conspicuous locations, and never let them be obscured by furniture or other equipment

3. Buy the right fire extinguishers for the risks in your premises

4. Have all extinguishers professionally serviced

5. Train staff to be ‘fire aware’, so as to avoid behaviour that could lead to a fire

6. Train staff in emergency procedures, so they all stay safe

7. Keep things that burn away from things that could set them alight

8. Don’t leave piles of combustible rubbish where it could catch fire

9. Don’t overload electrical equipment

10. Keep machinery clean

11. Clean up spills promptly

Any business that’s constantly fire aware is far less likely to become a victim of fire damage. That means this morning they’ll be ready to do more business, instead of wondering where to start in the clean-up of the devastation left behind by fire.

In the last full year almost 10,000 workplaces were damaged by fire, with their owners and operators wondering where to start with the clean-up after a fire, and how they could carry on. Some of them never did. Make sure yours doesn’t fall into that category.

Visit Fire and Safety Centre’s advice centre to find more information and advice on fire safety.

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