Workplace Fire Safety: Make a Plan to Reduce the Risk

Although fire safety is especially important in the summer, fire risk in the workplace is a serious concern all year round. Each year there are approximately 70,000 to 80,000 serious workplace fires in the United States, resulting in more than 200 deaths and more than 5,000 injuries.

The good news is that many workplace fires are preventable. Statistically, only 15 percent of workplace fires result from catastrophic equipment failure, with the rest caused by factors related to human behavior. Being proactive and implementing simple fire prevention plans and programs can reduce the likelihood of experiencing a fire in the workplace.

Employers can help promote fire safety by implementing a written workplace fire prevention plan. Cal/OSHA requires a written plan for businesses with 10 or more employees under the Title 8 General Industry Safety Orders (GISO Section 3221 Fire Prevention Plan). Employers with fewer than 10 employees can communicate the fire-prevention plan orally to workers. A good workplace fire prevention plan does the following:

• Identifies potential fire hazards and ignition sources.
• Sets guidelines for proper handling and storage of combustible materials.
• Includes instructions on how to control fire risk.
• Puts in place equipment or systems needed to control a workplace fire.

The fire prevention plan is a required part of your injury and illness prevention program (IIPP). State Fund assists policyholders with putting together an effective IIPP. Contact your nearest regional office for more information.

Another resource is the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an international nonprofit membership organization founded in 1896. It is the leading authority on fire safety for the workplace and the home. The NFPA’s mission is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards by developing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training and education. A team of volunteers representing various sectors -- fire service, insurance, business industry, government and consumers -- develops the codes and standards.

Remember, you can prevent workplace fires!

For more detailed information regarding Cal/OSHA’s requirements for Fire Prevention Plans, visit California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Section 3221. Fire Prevention Plan.