Many companies are reluctant to inspect their fire extinguishers and forgetting to do so could be fatal for your employees and business. Fire can be a significant risk to businesses. It can seriously injure employees or visitors or kill and it can destroy buildings, stock, and equipment or simple damage everything. Businesses operating from single or crowded premises are mostly exposed to fire. Most businesses fail to operate often severe fire.
Fire may have a more significant impact on companies that:
- Stock combustible materials including flammable liquids or gases
- Use heat processes
- Have poorly maintained equipment or electrical circuits
- Have people working alone in parts of the building
- Have public access (i.e. are at risk from arson)
- Have poor housekeeping standards.
However, it is important to note that any organization may be affected by fire hazard at any time. Most fires are avoidable and preventable. People responsible for workplace and places to which the public have access e.g malls, shops, and factories can avoid fire by taking responsibility for and taking necessary measures and procedures.
Every workplace in South Africa is required to be equipped with fire-fighting equipment in order to remain compliant. The quantity, presence, and quality of such items are found in almost every regulation that is related to the South African Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993. According to the building regulations by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS 0400) dictates, how many fire extinguishers are required per square meter or where the extinguishers should be located. Furthermore, how many these items are to be serviced or what flow rates they should be capable of meeting, as stipulated in the SANS1475, firefighting equipment.
Most red colored items are hard to be ignored, SANS standard 1186-1 states that the use of, and requirements for the signage that should be used to direct people to the fire-fighting equipment.
This shows commitment by the South African authorities on fire-fighting equipment. The impact of Fire is damaging, it is also irreversible hence the importance of having a regular update about the condition of fire-fighting equipment through a compliance audit. Compliance audits must be conducted by independent, accredited health and safety practitioners or company with a clear and unbiased update. Firefighting equipment cannot be underrated, it is vital that such compliance audit is carried out in a systematic approach. In order to do so, auditors are required to have in-depth, extensive knowledge and understanding of the firefighting equipment as well as the possible penalty of the presence of non-compliant firefighting equipment or the absence of the required items.
Fire Safety in South Africa
At BlueCollar, our officers continuously keep up with the solutions and trends. They conduct Compliance Audit services at any time. Each compliance audit conducted teaches them about the quality of firefighting equipment. This allows them to bank extensive experience and knowledge, which they use to advise clients to remain compliant.
What do I have to do?
Employers or building owners must consistently carry out, conduct fire safety risk assessment and make sure they keep it up to date. This shares the same approach as health and safety risk assessments and can be conducted out either as a separate exercise or as an overall risk assessment. Based on the conclusions of the assessment, employers need to ensure that adequate and appropriate fire safety measures are in place to minimize the loss of life or risk of injuries in the event of a fire. To help in preventing fire in the workplace, your risk assessment should be able to identify what could cause a fire to start, i.3e substances that burn, sources if ignition (heat or sparks) and the people who may be at risk.
Once you discovered the risks, you can now take necessary and appropriate action to control them. It is crucial to consider whether you can avoid them altogether and how you can manage them and reduce risks. You must also consider how you will protect people if there is a fire.
- Carry out a fire safety risk assessment
- Keep flammable substances and sources of ignition apart
- Have the correct fire-fighting equipment for putting a fire out quickly
- Consider how to detect fires and how to warn people quickly if they start, eg installing smoke alarms and fire alarms or bells
- Keep escape routes and fire exits clearly marked and unobstructed at all times
- Ensure your workers receive appropriate training on procedures they need to follow, including fire drills
- Avoid accidental fires, eg make sure heaters cannot be knocked over
- Review and update your risk assessment regularly