Complying with federal and state fire safety codes and regulations may seem like a complex burden for a small business. But preparing for the worst-case scenario is the best protection for your staff, property and assets. A safety plan for your business should cover these areas:
- Installing and servicing safety and health equipment in your office or physical plant.
- An established chain of command and procedures to be followed in an emergency, including an evacuation plan.
- Designation of a person or committee to oversee the safety plan and establishment of procedures.
Know what state and local codes apply to your businessFire codes vary among states and municipalities; it's important to know the regulations for your area.
Prepare for fire inspectionBefore opening your business, your municipality's fire and building departments may inspect such areas as exit egress and emergency lighting, fire extinguisher placement and fire alarms. Fire inspections may be done several times a year.
Ensure your workplace has current safety equipmentThis may be as simple as regularly checking the batteries in fire alarms or as elaborate as servicing plant shut-down procedures.
Develop an emergency procedure and evacuation planDesignate one or more persons to oversee the plan and develop procedures. Make sure all employees are aware of the plan.
Small Business section of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration site has resources for developing a small business safety and health plan.
Assess specific risks associated with your businessAre combustible materials, papers, scraps and debris properly stored? Are workplace tools or vehicles in good working condition? Are electrical appliances grounded and has any electrical work been done by a licensed contractor?
checklist that can be used to target specific conditions in your workplace.
- Make sure your office or plant has up-to-date fire alarms, a working sprinkler system and/or fire extinguishers and a first-aid kit and other safety equipment on site.
- Check exits to ensure they are functioning properly to allow rapid exit.
- Make sure personal protection equipment is on site and properly used.
- Stage a fire drill to make sure the staff knows what to do in the case of an emergency.
- Be prepared for regular fire inspection visits by knowing local fire and safety codes.