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Fire safety is a burning matter.

Health and safetyNovember 10, 2016

Fire safety is a burning matter.

Recently an Auckland plastics factory, Total Plastics, was engulfed in flames and suffered serious damage. It took almost 100 firefighters to bring the blaze under control and eventually extinguish it.

Managing Director, Tony King, surveyed the damage as the reality of what took place sunk in. As stated by Mr King, his first priority was his staff, and thankfully no one was hurt. His second priority was his customers, whose businesses will no doubt be affected as a result.

When looking at the events of that evening, one cannot help but wonder if the severity of the damage could have been avoided, as not a single fire alarm or sprinkler system was installed in the factory.

Fire can have a disastrous impact on a business. As identified by Mr King, both staff and customers can be significantly affected. What would have happened if the fire broke out during core business hours when the majority of staff were present?

This case highlights the importance of having clearly defined and easily accessible fire safety procedures for your business.

As an employer or business owner, it is imperative to understand if your business is meeting the obligations associated with fire safety. This includes determining if the appropriate fire prevention equipment is in place, such as smoke detectors or fire alarms, sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers and fire blankets.

Placing fire equipment throughout your workplace, where it is easily accessible, can help to extinguish small and manageable fires. You also need to ascertain if there is an appropriate fire evacuation plan in place and whether you need to appoint fire wardens to manage this plan.

By law, all workplaces must have an emergency plan detailing what employees and any others within the workplace must do in the event of evacuation. This plan must be tailored to the specific workplace and the work carried out. Generally, if the work carried out is relatively low risk, the plan does not need to be too complex. In higher risk workplaces, a more comprehensive and detailed plan is necessary.

Many businesses are also required to appoint a First Aid Officer to assist with workplace incidents and injuries as a result of events such as a fire. These officers must receive the appropriate training and should be the first point of call when accidents happen.

When considering the above, factors such as the number of staff employed and the type of business you run will play a significant role in meeting your requirements. To ensure you get it right, Employsure, the leading workplace relations specialist, can work with your business to identified health and safety hazards and help to mitigate the associated risk. Call us today on 0800 675 700.

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