Information on common fire-related hazards in the workplace

Common fire-related hazards

Fire presents a significant risk to businesses. It can kill or seriously injure employees or visitors and can also damage or destroy buildings, equipment or stock.

The Scottish Fire Rescue Service is the body responsible of enforcing fire legislation within Scotland. They may visit your premises to ensure that you have taken the necessary precautions to manage fire hazards within your organisation.

The main causes of fire in the workplace are:

  • electricity – neglect or misuse of wiring can lead to short circuits
  • rubbish and waste material – fire is likely to spread through accumulated waste
  • smoking – carelessly discarded cigarette butts or lit matches are one of the major causes of fire
  • cooking – kitchens provide opportunities for​ a fire to start and materials on which it can feed
  • heating appliances – portable heaters are a threat when placed beside combustible furniture or fittings​
  • combustible materials including – flammable liquids, glues and solvents are all liable to combust unless stored and used properly
  • arson or wilful fire-raising

How to spot common fire hazards

You should be able to spot fire hazards, which are any situation that can give rise to a fire.

We have linked to a series of eight videos below that play one after the other. You can use these to train you and your staff how to spot common fire hazards within the workplace and at home.

When extra planning is needed

The impact of fire in the workplace can depend on the type of business you have, your organisation size and the people you are responsible for.

More fire safety planning will be needed if your organisation:

  • has public access
  • has poor housekeeping standards
  • uses heat processes such as welding or cutting
  • has people working alone in parts of the building
  • has older or poorly maintained equipment or electrical circuits
  • stocks combustible materials including flammable liquids or gases

For this reason, it is very important that you know the premises, processes, equipment, materials and people likely to be in your workplace.

Carry out a risk assessment

You have a duty to manage fire safety if you are responsible for the premises. To do this, you need to carry out a fire risk assessment.

This assessment should identify anyone who may be at risk should a fire occur and the inherent risks within the premises. Additionally, the assessment should provide detail of all measures introduced to remove or reduce those risks in order to ensure the safety of anyone in the event of a fire.

You should think of these 3 elements while identifying hazards:

  1. Sources of ignition – sources of heat that can become hot enough to ignite materials found at the premises.
  2. Source of fuel – anything that burns.
  3. Sources of oxygen – which is present in the air around us.

The assessment will help you to take steps to remove any potential fire hazards, and to reduce the likelihood of fire impacting on your workplace.

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