While retail work isn’t as hazardous as some other professions, there are risks in the average workplace. On top of this, retailers have an obligation to keep their customers, employees, and properties safe. Unfortunately, government agencies are finding they’re failing to do this sufficiently. Here are several fire safety tips for retail stores to mitigate these risks.
Keep Training In Line with Equipment
When you alter the fire suppression systems or buy new fire protection equipment, your staff must be trained in how to use them properly. They should know how to properly handle ventilation controls in the kitchen, turn on fire suppression systems if they suspect a fire, and operate any fire extinguishers on hand. The greater the fire risk, the more often retail staff need refresher training. Consider having regular training on how to operate fire extinguishers and put out different types of fires, especially if you have a high turnover on the team.
The simplest solution is providing the same safety training to everyone when they start their new job with the company. When you’re providing safety training to new employees, give them fire extinguisher training as well. If you install heat sensors along with smoke and flame detectors, teach people what can set them off and how to determine if it is a fire or an accidental alert. Only let fire alarm engineers install, upgrade and repair such equipment, though changing out the batteries in smoke detectors could be done by your own staff, as long as the work is documented for safety purposes. Hold regular fire drills with your staff and practice evacuation routes, too.
Keep the Clutter Under Control
Make sure major routes aren’t interfered with. Never let the fire exit door become just another storage area. And train employees not to stack items in front of fire extinguishers since this creates a whole new set of problems. The same is true for electrical panel boxes. Don’t let anyone stack things like rolling carts around the panel box, especially anything that is flammable like cardboard boxes.
If your business has spills of fat, oil, and grease, teach people how to properly clean these messes up and dispose of it. This is a tedious task, but it has a number of benefits. One is eliminating the slip hazard. The other is that you eliminate a potential fire hazard.
Be Careful with Labeling and Warnings
OSHA cited one retailer for both blocking and mislabeling fire extinguishers. They ran into trouble for not having a red locating arrow above the fire extinguishers to help people locate them. When you install new fire extinguishers or move them to a new area, make sure you move the related labels as well. Don’t let anyone cover up those labels with advertising either.
Include Fire Safety in Your Audits
It is surprising how many stores check for expired products but fail to check the expiration dates of their fire extinguishers. Make fire extinguisher checks part of your regular inspections and note their condition and any actions taken as part of your audits. When inspecting the premises, verify that evacuation routes are both clear and properly marked.
No one wants a fire. However, good safety training and prevention can reduce the risk of it happening and minimize the losses – both monetary and in lives – when they do happen.