An OSHA fire safety quick guide

By: January 28th, 2011 Email This Post Print This Post

The following is an excerpt from the Complete Guide to Laboratory Safety, Third Edition, by Terry Jo Gile. To purchase this book, click here.

Since fire safety requires close involvement with staff members, OSHA has a number of requirements in order to protect employees. The following 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 ft. of an employee, so one every 150 ft. 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 employee’s head, it has not deplete oxygen from 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 OSHA standards.
  • Test fire detection systems as prescribed by the local fire department. A trained person much 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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