Editor’s note. The April issue of Medical Environment Update focuses on fire safety, particularly as it relates to medical and dental practices, clinics and other non-hospital settings. Here is additional information that was referenced in the issue and available only through the OSHA Healthcare Advisor.
Since fire safety requires close involvement with staff members, OSHA has a number of requirements in order to protect employees. Below are a few important fire safety considerations:
- Be sure to have the correct fire extinguisher for the expected fire. There are four classes of extinguishers, but most commonly facilities will use Class A,B, or C fire extinguishers.
- Locate extinguishers in the proper place. OSHA requires that they are accessible within 75 feet of an employee, so one every 150 feet will meet requirements.
- Train employees to use fire extinguishers but do not require them to put them out. Such requirements involve much more rigorous training. Or establish with your employees that their response to a fire is to evacuate, which eliminates injuries from fighting fires. Note: The plan in your OSHA manual calls for evacuation.
- Employees should put out a fire only if the fire is contained and flames are no higher than the employees head, it has not depleted oxygen in the room and smoke is not obstructing visibility.
- Establish an alarm system, such as a telephone system or siren, which alerts employees on site. Install all devices and equipment per the advice of local authorities to meet OSHSA standards.
- Test fire detection systems as prescribed by the local fire department. A trained person must perform servicing and maintenance to the system.
- Have a thorough escape plan in place, complete with a designated safe area outside, which employees will be trained on. Coordinate these efforts with the local fire department.
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