A Business Owner’s Guide to Preventing Electrical Fires
When it comes to destructive fires in the workplace, electrical fires are known to be a leading culprit. Between 2011 and 2015, electrical distribution and lighting equipment was the leading cause of industrial fires, accounting for 24% of U.S. fires during these years.
Electrical fires can stem from a number of factors, including wiring issues and poor electrical distribution equipment. As a business owner, you have a serious responsibility to stop these electrical fires from happening. While you can’t eliminate the risk completely, you can take several precautionary measures to improve the odds. This article will guide you toward identifying potential hazards and fireproofing your workplace as thoroughly as possible. Let’s dive in.
Identifying Potential Electrical Hazards
Electrical fires regularly rank among the top five causes of commercial fires. To stay safe, it’s crucial to know the warning signs of a potential electrical fire. Catching these hazards early can prevent damage and even stop a disaster from occurring. Your top electrical hazards include:
Corroded wiring that has worn insulating sheathing: Replace the wires immediately, as they’re at high risk of causing an electrical fire.
Frequently blown fuses or circuits: This issue is a warning sign that your outlets or circuits are overloaded and at risk of overheating.
Worn wall outlets: If you spot any discolored or noticeably worn outlets, it’s time to give them a refresh before sparks fly.
Flickering or dimming lights: These types of lighting phenomena can indicate an issue with your wiring.
Shocks from appliances: Check your wiring immediately to prevent future shocks and determine whether you face a fire risk.
If you notice any of these warning signs, it’s time to act immediately. Don’t hesitate to repair, replace or remove the faulty wiring, outlets, lights and appliances. Call professionals if you need a hand rather than attempting to fix any electrical issues in-house. Stay vigilant and act quickly — it’s one of the best methods of fire prevention and will greatly improve your business safety.
Five Ways to Equip Your Business for Preventing Electrical Fires
You might think a commercial fire is unlikely to ever strike your business, but electrical fires can happen when you least expect it. In fact, they often catch workplaces unaware. Fortunately ,with the necessary preventive steps in place, you can greatly reduce the risk of such a disaster. Keep your workers and building safe with the following five tips.
1. Train Your Staff to Handle Commercial Fires
You can’t be everywhere at once. Your employees are your eyes and ears on the ground, so it’s crucial that they know how to identify and react to the signs of an electrical fire. All-staff fire safety training should include learning how to:
Identify electrical fire risks and signs
Implement safety procedures when dealing with moisture and electricity
Stay a safe distance away from an exposed electrical conductor
Follow proper lockout protocol while handling electrical equipment
Implement safe electrical installation procedures
2. Follow Good Housekeeping Habits
When you’re housing electrical distribution equipment, check that you’re following the recommended procedure to minimize your risks. Always try to store electrical distribution in a separate room that is well-ventilated, clean and dry. Make sure you keep combustible material far away and avoid using electrical rooms as a storage space for extra inventory, boxes or janitorial materials. These items could serve as fire fodder if any electrical sparks occur.
3. Inspect and Test Fire Equipment Regularly
To stay up to fire safety code, your business likely has fire prevention equipment onsite already. This equipment may include exit signs, smoke detectors, fire alarms and fire extinguishers, but having it in your building isn’t a fail-safe way to avoid an electrical fire. Each device can lose battery power, break or wear down over time. Schedule regular inspections and tests to make sure your equipment does its job right and is ready to help warn of or treat a fire quickly in an actual emergency.
Now that you know your equipment is working right, it’s time to take care of the other half of the equation: testing your emergency responses. After training your staff to prevent and respond to an electrical fire, you should schedule drills to put their training to the test. Include emergency evacuations in these drills so that if the worst-case scenario occurs, your employees will know the quickest routes to a safe exit.
4. Carry out Frequent Risk Assessments
In addition to checking your fire safety equipment, you should schedule regular risk assessments. Make a comprehensive list of your wiring, circuits, outlets and electrical appliances. Inspect each regularly to take note of existing corrosion or damage. Once you spot any of the warning signs mentioned above, take care of the problem right away. If you notice any sparks or overheating, proceed quickly but cautiously.
These risk assessments will help you fix issues as they arise rather than waiting for them to become more dangerous and obvious.
5. Use Infrared Thermal Imaging Technology
One surefire way to pinpoint problematic hotspots is to use infrared thermal imaging. This process involves pointing a handheld thermal scanner at your electrical panels to identify areas of concern before they can cause an electrical fire. This test is usually conducted by a licensed electrician, but you can also opt to purchase your own thermal scanner and train your employees to use it properly.
Incorporate this routine into your risk assessments and regular inspections, and make sure you’re hitting all the key electrical distribution equipment. Depending on your workplace, the process will probably include equipment like switchboards, circuit breakers, fuses, motors and transformers.
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If you’re looking for ways to improve your business safety and lower your risk of an electrical fire, Unlimited Restoration is here to help. Our Disaster Planning and Training services include customizing a priority response emergency plan to fit your company’s needs. We can conduct an onsite building inspection and assessment to help you identify risks and formulate safety procedures specific to your workplace.