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Requirements for Fire Safety in the Workplace

Recent fires in several of our public buildings have once again brought to light the critical need to ensure that laws are followed in order to prevent the destruction of lives, property, services, and infrastructure. We in South Africa can afford to lose all of them.

According to the legislation, the employer must create and maintain a workplace that is risk-free for everyone’s health and safety. OHS Act #8 (1) Every employer must conduct their business in a way that prevents, to the extent that it is reasonably possible, the exposure of persons other than those in their employ who may be directly impacted by their operations to risks to their health or safety. This includes employees, customers, visitors, contractors, subcontractors, delivery personnel, students, etc. OHS Act #9 (1)

How can workplace fire safety be ensured?

  1. Audit your present fire safety plan to find all the gaps in it that don’t meet regulations or requirements.
  2. Perform a risk assessment, determine an acceptable level of risk, and analyze and estimate the degrees of risks present in the workplace. All businesses should be assessed for their fire risk in terms of fire safety, including accommodations and storage spaces like pack houses and storage locations for chemicals (including sanitizer) and flammable liquids. This needs to be considered in the risk analysis.
  3. Conduct an evacuation drill to identify any gaps that require updating.
    • It’s crucial to take the exercises seriously and give your full participation.
    • Although they may be inconvenient, they are intended to equip personnel with the skills they need to act appropriately in the case of a fire emergency.
  4. Upkeep of fire suppression systems:
    • All directions should be able
    • Make sure that nothing is blocking the path of the firefighting tools. Should this continue to be an issue, mark the floor to guarantee that the space remains unoccupied and clear.
    • Every piece of firefighting equipment should undergo a monthly inspection by safety representatives or qualified fire marshals in the designated region.
    • Checklists are offered:
      • Checklist for dry chemical fire extinguishers
      • Checklist for carbon dioxide extinguishers
      • Checklist for hose reels
      • Hydrant inventory
    • To know what to check for during their inspections, the designated individual performing the monthly inspections must have the necessary training.
    • The SANS 10105-1:2010 specifies the correct height for mounting DCP and CO2 units. Not less than 3 cm off the ground or no higher than 1,5 m.
    • Make sure an authorized inspection authority is servicing this equipment.
    • On the following website: https://www.saqccfire.co.za/searchresults.php?search name=0279&namesearch=Search, you can verify the qualifications of the service provider company and the service technician.
    • Have a trained individual accompany the service professional when they perform the annual service.
    • Before beginning work, a 37(2) agreement and a valid letter of good standing must be in place.
    • Extinguishers required given the workspace’s size and nature.
  5. Employees should receive fire safety equipment training.
    • Appointed fire fighters and evacuation marshals, who will receive training in recognizing fire and managing one in the particular workplace setting. Employers are required by OSHA to instruct their staff members on how to use fire safety equipment.
      • Basic firefighting training: online or in
      • Basic firefighting and emergency preparedness training, online or in person
  6. Annual orientation sessions for all personnel on:
    • Techniques for fire safety that are listed in the company’s action plan.
    • Understand the location of the exits and what to do during an evacuation.
    • Recognize the locations of the fire pull stations and fire extinguishers.
    • Who are the company’s first responders, marshals for evacuations, and firefighters?
  7. Egress routes:
    • There should be one or more escape routes available in all structures, including storage rooms, in case of fire or other emergencies.
    • They must never be blocked and be wide enough to allow personnel using the route to exit the building without difficulty.
  8. Chemical and flammable liquid storage spaces are high-risk locations.
    • When managing the danger associated with the storage of chemicals and flammable liquids, such as sanitizer, diesel, and paint, regulations must be taken into account.
    • Clearly marked storage locations are required.
    • Without the requisite training and safety gear, staff may not be forced to work in flammable liquid storage facilities.
    • Chemical Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) must all be accessible on-site. The staff who will be using the chemicals must receive training on the MSDS information.
    • Employers must make sure that storage areas for flammable liquids are equipped with effective intake and exhaust ventilation in order to remove any vapour and stop recirculation that could pollute the workplace.
    • No smoking is permitted anywhere that stores flammable liquids. abide with the Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act of 2007 and have a designated smoking space.
    • Electrical systems may be installed inside the storeroom as long as they comply with SANS10108 rules and have documentation from a licensed electrician attesting to their installation.
    • No Smoking; No Naked Flames; No Fires should be posted at the entrance, at the very least.
    • At the very least, standard operating procedures ought to include the following:
      • Emergency contact information should be displayed at the closest phone (112, for the ambulance, police, and fire departments on a cell phone), as well as the closest poison control center.
    • All employees must be familiar with an emergency procedure that outlines the precise steps to take in an emergency.
  9. Policies: A health and safety management system must prioritize fire safety.
    • There should be a written health and safety policy that serves as confirmation that senior management will make sure the workspace and facilities provided as part of the workplace (including residential facilities) are safe and hygienic and will take the necessary precautions to prevent accidents and injuries in the workplace.
    • The health and safety policy ought to be:
      • Documented.
      • By senior management approved (dated and signed)
      • Clearly visible and readable to everyone.
      • Both permanent and temporary staff were informed.
      • Routinely reevaluated (at least annually).

Every business needs health and safety rules to make sure that employee safety is effectively maintained and that management and employees are both aware of their duties and the law’s obligations.