Imagine a scene straight out of a disaster movie – a massive explosion rocks at a petrochemical plant, sending flames soaring 500 feet into the air. This was the reality at the Formosa Plastics Corporation’s Point Comfort, Texas facility on October 6, 2005.
A hydrocarbon release and subsequent fire and explosions caused extensive damage to the plant and left 14 workers injured. The incident is a stark reminder of the importance of fire safety training in the workplace. If it had proper safety measures and training in place, the damage and injuries may have been prevented or minimized.
We’ll delve into the importance of fire safety training at the workplace and the steps employers can take to ensure the safety of their employees and assets.
Note: Don’t forget to also check out how often fire safety training should be conducted.
Workplace fire statistics
So many businesses are falling short when it comes to fire safety training according to recent statistics released by Fire and Safety Australia:
- More than 50% of employees lack confidence in handling fire emergencies at the workplace.
- The findings reveal that less than 50% of employees feel confident knowing the correct evacuation procedures during a fire emergency.
- Similarly, less than 50% of employees feel confident in using a fire extinguisher, with only 25% able to locate the nearest fire extinguisher from memory. Over 50% of employees tested were found to handle fire extinguishers dangerously.
- Only a small percentage of employees, 13%, are aware of the different types of fire extinguishers and their appropriate use for specific classes of fire.
These findings highlight the importance of fire safety training courses for employees in the workplace.
What are the consequences of workplace fires?
There are a number of potential consequences that can result from workplace fires. These can include:
- Loss of life – Loss of life is the most tragic consequence that can result from a workplace fire.
- Injuries – Injuries can also be a significant problem, as people can be burned or suffer from smoke inhalation.
- Damage to property – Damage to property can be extensive, particularly if the fire is not quickly contained
- Loss of business – Businesses can suffer significant losses if they are forced to close down due to a fire.
- Damage to reputation – If your business has been damaged in a fire or explosion, you have a high risk of losing customers and harming your company’s reputation in the community.
- Loss of intellectual property – You can lose the data stored on computers or paper records in a fire.
Importance of fire safety training at the workplace
Fire safety training is essential to keep the workplace clean, safe and healthy. Fire safety training courses can help employees learn the potential hazards and risks associated with fires and teach them how to prevent and respond to fire emergencies.
Some key points reflecting the importance of fire safety training at the workplace include:
1. Contributes to the safety of employees at the workplace
Fire safety training is an important aspect of employee safety. Employees should be trained on how to deal with fire and other hazards in the workplace.
Approximately 95% of all fires can be put out quickly if the appropriate fire extinguisher is used promptly, according to both Australian and international fire statistics.
Proper training can help employees understand the common causes of fires in the workplace and how to prevent them, such as with proper use of equipment and safe storage of flammable materials.
Fire safety training includes a wide range of activities, including fire protection drills, education on fire safety, online training, and establishing fire safety norms.
2. Legal requirements
According to Australian fire regulations, all businesses operating in the country have a legal duty to comply with the relevant standards and guidelines, including:
- AS 1670 – Automatic fire detection and fire alarm systems
- AS 1841 – Portable fire extinguishers
- AS 1851 – Routine service of fire protection systems and equipment
- AS 2293 – Emergency exits, signs and escape lighting
- AS 2444 – Portable fire extinguisher and fire blankets
Failure to do so can result in fines and criminal proceedings starting at $500 per week.
3. Protecting assets
According to the MCR safety, workplace fires result in an estimated $328 billion in direct losses for US businesses annually.
Fire can cause serious damage to a business’s property and equipment, resulting in costly repairs and lost productivity. Relevant fire safety training can help employees prevent fires and protect the company’s assets.
For example, a manufacturing company provides fire safety training to its employees on how to handle and store flammable materials safely to prevent fires from starting. Appropriate training not only improves response time but also promotes the protection of assets, ultimately leading to increased productivity and overall safety in the workplace.
4. Quicker response time in emergency situations
In the event of a fire, every second counts. Employees need to know what to do to evacuate the premises safely.
Fire safety training helps improve the emergency response time as employees understand:
- How to respond in an emergency situation;
- How to evacuate the building;
- The use of fire alarms and extinguishers;
- How to use fire escape routes;
- Where to collect belongings; and
- What actions are appropriate if an explosion or fire occurs in a confined space (e.g., an elevator shaft)?
The better equipped and trained employees are during an emergency, the faster they can respond. As a result, it’ll ensure that people will be safe from harm.
5. Increase productivity and profit
Fire safety training reduces the risk of fires in the workplace and helps employees respond quickly and efficiently in case of emergency, minimizing disruptions to business operations.
But that’s not it!
Here are a few ways in which fire safety training can increase productivity and profit:
- When employees understand fire safety plans and protocols, companies can reduce the risk of fires occurring in the workplace.
- Employees who are well-trained in fire safety procedures are more confident in their ability to respond to a fire emergency. This can lead to increased productivity.
- Companies implementing fire safety training may be eligible for reduced insurance costs, which can lead to significant cost savings.
Thus, by being proactive in preventing fires, companies can avoid costly downtime, minimize damage to equipment and facilities, and avoid loss of life. This in turn allows companies to keep their operations running smoothly, increasing their productivity and profits.
Provide fire safety training in your workplace effectively
Fire safety training is essential for ensuring the safety and well-being of all employees in the workplace. By providing training, employees are made aware of fire hazards and risks, as well as taught how to prevent fires and respond effectively in case of an emergency. This helps to maintain a safe workplace and healthy work environment.
You can provide fire safety training in many ways, including live fire training, e-learning, or with the latest in blended training software which combines both live training and support with a digital interface.
From understanding common causes of fires and how to prevent them to learning how to evacuate the building quickly and safely, fire safety training can save lives and protect a company’s assets.
After determining your company’s specific fire safety training needs, it’s important to choose an effective method of workplace training.
Consider utilizing a workplace learning platform such as Cloud Assess. To evaluate its effectiveness, take advantage of a free trial offer to test the software before making a decision.