What causes the most fires in the workplace in the UK?

Most workplaces are safe and protected from the many risks of fire, but many also have some components in place that can contribute to a fire outbreak. If safety plans are not implemented, and training is not provided, workplaces can be at severe fire risk. There are more fires in the UK workplace every year than there should be, resulting from various causes. Here a few common causes of fire outbreaks at work:

Combustible waste left on site

Often commercial premises will have an accumulation of combustible waste material such as paper and cardboard. If it is left around without being dealt with, this could pose a significant fire risk. This combustible material is the perfect fuel for fire, and should a fire break out; it can be devastating for a workplace. Always have a detailed disposal plan for such waste and when in storage, keep well away from main buildings and secure with no access to possible ignition sources.

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Flammable liquids

Some workplaces will have many of these substances, and others will not. Factories will have a lot, whereas an office is unlikely to. However, even a limited amount of flammable liquids can be a fire risk if not stored correctly. It only takes a small amount of ignition to alight these liquids. All flammable liquids must be kept in a ventilated and securely locked space and never near a fire hazard or possible ignition source.

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Hot objects

Any object that heats up can start a fire, particularly electrical equipment, and factory machinery. All it takes is for equipment to overheat from excess use; a spark as an ignition source, and a fire could well break out. Any equipment or machinery that heats up should be kept away from combustible materials, and machinery should be switched off at night or when not in use to further reduce fire risks.

Human Mistakes

One common thread across all instances of workplace fires is human error. When staff are not trained correctly, they can quickly increase the fire risk without knowing they’ve done anything dangerous. While it’s hard to eliminate human error, fire safety training in all workplaces is a duty employers should take very seriously.

Richard Brown


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