OSHA: Fire Hazard Protection

By | September 19, 2014

Fire hazard guidelines by OSHA apply to most of the industry. Though fire hazard are not common except for a few industries, time is one of the most unexpected factors in the world and you never know which time your workplace may meet with a fire hazard. In such cases, the employer should be prepared for the action. This needs preparations before hand.

Employers must train their employees to handle fire related hazards at the workplace with the use of fire extinguishers and a how-to-escape plan. Though many of the industries are not mandated to have fire extinguishers and emergency actions plans at the workplace by OSHA, OSHA always recommends the workplace to have such plans and fire fighting equipment.

Requirements for emergency fire exits
The workplace should have at least two fire exits and make sure they are located far from each other. Though there is no restrictions on the number of fire exits and one can do, it has to be ensured that the number of fire exit are capable enough to evacuate all the workforce in due time in case of a fire hazard. This is related to the number of employees present and the accommodating capacity of the exit. The fire exits must be clearly identifiable by marking them with exit signs. Fire exits should be made of fire resistant material and they should not be blocked or locked when employees are working inside. In addition, the exit route has be spacious enough, properly illuminated and free from any blockades or obstructions. It should lead to a safe place.

Emergency Action Plan (EAP) for fire hazards
Not all employers are required to have one by OSHA but it is always preferred to have one. EAP gives employees the clarity of action and procedures to be carried in case of fire hazard without any state of confusion. An EAP includes the following things:

  • Routes and procedures in case of a hazard and necessary training. It should be documented and kept for review.
  • It should ensure evacuation of all the employees including the disabled and the persons who stay behind to shut down important plant machinery.
  • Proper alarm systems to identify the hazard.
  • Review of the plan to be done with new employees and with all the employees in case of change of plan.

Fire Prevention Plan (FPP) for fire hazards
Just like EAP, FPP is also not mandatory for every employer but it is preferred to have one. But unlike EAP, FPP is concerned with taking precautionary measures before hand to avoid any chance of fire hazards. It includes the following things:

  • The plan must be available for review and discussed with new employees and all the employees whenever the plan is changed. Potential fire hazards must be communicated to the employees on job.
  • It contains proper procedures such as cleaning, handling, packaging and storage of flammable materials.
  • It also provides procedures for controlling ignition sources like smoking, welding and burning. And, cleaning and maintenance of heat producing equipment such as burners, ovens and stoves.

Having proper safety procedures and plans at workplace ensures that fire hazards are minimized at workplace and in cases of fire hazards, proper steps are taken and appropriate procedures are carried out to mitigate the hazard and provide safety to life and property.