Fire safety laws for business basics


As a business owner, you have an ethical and legal responsibility to make sure that your employees are safe. Whether your business is large or small, you are legally obligated to both understand and comply with fire safety laws.

That being said, you’d be surprised to the extent that business owners don’t understand these laws. Fire safety isn’t always the most exciting topic for some people – and for others it’s just something they take for granted. Trust us when we say – when and if a fire occurs, you’re going to wish you knew everything you could.

Here are five safety laws that every business should be following and that every business owner should understand fully:

Fire exits 

If there’s a fire, there needs to be a clear path to get out of a building. It’s an OSHA requirement that you have at least two of these exists that aren’t in close proximity to each other. These exists can be doors, windows or even a crawl space – but it needs to be serviceable and be something where people can access the exterior of the building.

Nothing is allowed to block those entrances. The only thing that is – is a fire alarm system. Make sure all these exits are clearly marked with lighted exit signs and signage that points to where people need to go.

Portable fire extinguishers – get ‘em.

OSHA essentially requires that you have the right kinds of fire extinguishers for the right kinds of fire hazards that are present in your workspace. Kitchens for example, will need extinguishers that fight grease fires while another might need extinguishers for electrical fires.

Once that’s been done, you’ll need to do a few things. For one, train your employees how to use them. Fire Extinguisher training can actually be a lot of fun if you’ve got the right people teaching it, so it’s a great excuse for your employees to loaf a morning off of work once a year so they can learn. Also make sure you’re testing them and having them checked routinely.

Plan, plan, and plan

Having your own plan is great – but believe it or not, you’re required to have an ‘official plan’ by law. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has a whole list of tips and guidelines that can help you put this together. Keep exit plans in high visibility places and make sure your employees know the routine.

Do keep in mind that the depth and extent of your plan will vary according to industry. For example, if you have a business based in a factory – it’s going to have to be comprehensive. If you’re in a more traditional small office space – an escape plan with arrows and directions as to where to go will be enough. Just be sure you know what you’ll need depending on what industry you’re in.

Fire suppression systems

OSHA states that you must have some sort of fire suppression system in your workplace – such as an automatic sprinkler system. These are systems that – when they detect a fire – they are activated and spray flame-retardants and will likely activate the building’s alarm to notify people of a potential hazard. Like fire extinguishers, it’s important to make sure these systems are being looked after and maintained regularly.

Fire safety = your safety

People don’t like saying this, but there’s an entire cottage industry dedicated to finding safety violations and going after businesses for it. Especially if someone gets hurt and you don’t have one of these things in place – you can be held liable. Don’t get put into a precarious position because you backburnered a simple safety fix.

To make sure your businesses is on the up and up, check out the OSHA and NFPA websites – or if you’d like – call in pros like us and we’ll do a free walkthrough and help get you on the track to making sure your t’s are crossed and your I’s are dotted. We’ll also be able to help identify any blind spots in your fire safety plan and help make sure you, your employees and your business are fully protected in the event of a fire.

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