Top causes of workplace fires and how to avoid them

Fires are obviously one of the most significant risks a business can face, while the number of fires in non-domestic properties appears to be falling there were still almost 16,000 fires during  2016/17 in England alone that resulted in casualties.

According to statistics from Zurich there were 57,000 fire related property claims in 2015, totalling £1.1bn. 

Many such fires are avoidable, here we look at the top causes of workplace fires and how they can be avoided:

Modern methods of construction (MMC)

Timber frame use, modular construction and polystyrene cladding are common in modern construction. These can increase fire risk if managed poorly, necessitating quality construction and advanced fire-stopping technology.

Hot works

Sparks and molten material generated by hot works, typically over 1000’F, can be widely scattered. Comprehensive training, appropriate workspaces, risk assessments and contractor vetting are all essential.

Cooking

Serious kitchen fires can take hold in seconds, particularly when oil is involved or cooking is left unattended. Clean surfaces, extractors and their ducting regularly and install fire blankets in kitchens.

Electrical appliances

Overloading extension leads and faulty electrical equipment both have the potential to cause fires. Purchasing from quality manufacturers and conducting regular portable appliance testing cam help mitigate the risk (PAT).

Flammable material 

Almost all organisations will store flammable materials, including everyday items like liquid fuels, solvents and cleaning products. It is essential to store flammable materials safely and well away from potential sources of ignition.

Wiring faults

Cable deterioration, faults or substandard workmanship accounts for a significant number of fires in the UK. Owners of older properties should be particularly vigilant and ensure wiring has been professionally safety checked.

Arson in empty buildings

The majority of fires in unoccupied buildings are started deliberately. Regularly inspect empty property for signs of vandalism and consider CCTV, perimeter lighting, alarm systems and sprinklers (where appropriate)

Storage of waste

Paper, cardboard and other combustible waste materials can provide fuel for fires if not stored correctly. Dispose quickly and store away from buildings and ignition sources, reducing the chances of both accidental fire and arson.

Improper extraction

Dust and powder from metal, wood and plastic work can serve as an accelerant or cause explosions in enclosed spaces. Extraction fans should be installed and everyday air conditioning units regularly inspected and cleaned.

Need Some Help?

Our risk management team can also provide Fire Risk Assessments to help you understand the specific issues your business may face and suggest ways these risks can be minimised. Contact us today to find out more 01422 358 525.