Whether it’s an office, retail store, warehouse or hospitality venue, fire safety in the workplace should be a high priority for all businesses. With regular fire evacuation drills, exit sign testing, emergency procedure refreshes and multiple extinguishers placed throughout the building, it can often seem like your business has its fire safety down pat
For some, this may be true. However, statistics released by Fire and Safety Australia paint a different picture. In this post, we look into the true state of fire safety in the workplace and outline simple strategies to stay safe.
The State of Fire Safety in Australian Workplaces
Fire safety and compliance is taken seriously in Australia. Even small commercial offices are legally obliged to be subjected to regular testing of alarms, extinguishers, signage and evacuation.
For this reason, the statistics released by Fire and Safety Australia come as a surprise. They found that:
- Less than 50% of employees report feeling confident knowing what evacuative action to take during a fire emergency
- Less than 50% of employees report feeling confident knowing how to operate a fire extinguisher
- Less than 25% of employees tested could locate their nearest fire extinguisher from memory
- Over 50% of employees tested operated a fire extinguisher in a dangerous manner
- Only 13% of employees are aware of the different kinds of fire extinguishers needed to put out specific classes of fire.
Employee training stands out as an obvious hurdle for businesses to overcome in improving their workplace fire safety. Fire and Safety Australia recommend training sessions that include evacuation exercises, extinguisher exercises and knowledge tests to up-skill employees.
Hazardous Materials in the Workplace
Poor employee fire awareness may be a risk in the workplace, but it’s not the only hazard. Non-compliant building materials have contributed to recent tragedies, most notably the Grenfell Tower fire in the United Kingdom, and Melbourne’s Lacrosse building fire.
In an office, apartment and retail environment, common fire hazards can go beyond non-compliant external materials, including;
Damaged power cords on electrical equipment: Including computer cables, printers, removable media like hard drives, and desktop lights.
Combustible materials: The typical office space is laden with potentially combustible materials, like loose paper and kitchen waste. In a retail setting, clothes, discarded packaging and non-fire safe wall fixtures can pose significant threats.
Appliances: Faulty appliances pose an ever-present risk in office, retail and residential environments.
Using Fire-Safe Products in the Office
We understand the importance of fire safe products, which is why we sought and achieved a Group 2 fire certification for our popular Evergreen artificial green wall panels.
Artificial plant walls are becoming increasingly popular decorative fixtures in homes, apartments, offices and retail stores, which is why it’s imperative that they meet and exceed fire safety requirements. Our Evergreen Panel was the first artificial green wall product to be subjected to a full-scale fire test in accordance with industry standards AS ISO 9705-2003 and AS 5637.1:2015.
The test was conducted in a laboratory in Victoria, with a total of 45 panels being analysed for heat release rate, smoke output and several other factors.
To learn more about improving the fire safety of your office with certified fit-out products, get in touch with us today.