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5 tips for electrical fire prevention in your workplace

14 January 2020

Electrical fires are common in both homes and businesses around Australia. 

An electrical fire is often caused by a failure or malfunction within the electrical components of equipment, appliances, and/or machinery. The fire danger originates in electrical wires, cables, circuit breakers, and within the appliances themselves.

These fires can be complicated to put out – throwing water on the fire or extinguishing them can be dangerous, even causing electrocution, so setting electrical fire prevention measures are essential for your business.

If you’re looking to reduce the risk of electrical fires and dangers within your business, you’ve come to the right place. At GKT Group, we have more than 10 years experience helping Newcastle business owners improve safety on their premises, and in this blog, we’ve got five tips to help prevent electrical fires in your workplace.

Read on!

#1. Make sure smoke alarms are installed and checked regularly

No matter what business you’re in, this should be a standard practice. A smoke alarm is a vital warning sign of fire and helps to protect the lives of your team members, your customers and/or your clients.

One in 10 Australians have never tested their smoke alarm, while 29% of Australians don’t even know how to test their alarms. This needs to change – a smoke alarm can be a warning sign you need to stop major fires from occurring on your premises, or the sign you need to evacuate.

At GKT Group, we offer complete smoke detector auditing, new installations, smoke alarm testing and repairs, along with a wide range of both ionisation and photoelectric smoke alarms to suit all homes and businesses.

If you’re concerned about the smoke alarms on your premises, contact us for a free quote. We can help improve the safety of your business, one smoke alarm at a time.

#2. Don’t leave appliances running overnight

Leaving appliances and machinery running overnight is a big no-no. Some machinery like fax machines, computers, dishwashers, and even mobile phone chargers are prone to overheating, so it’s best not to leave these running overnight.

Many appliances have fail-safe technologies and cut-off switches to power down when overheating occurs, but more often than not, direct action needs to be taken by the user e.g. unplugging the appliance. You can’t unplug an overheating appliance if no one is there to do it!

Make sure to switch off hazardous or overheating appliances before leaving at the end of the day. This is a sure-fire way to minimise the risk of electrical fires in your business.

#3. Complete regular risk assessments and replace old electrical equipment and appliances

Old electrical appliances cause a staggering amount of electrical fires. In America, for example, 19% of non-residential building fires are caused by malfunctioning appliances and electrical equipment.

To put it simply, old or out-dated appliances weren’t made to keep up with the electrical demands and usage of today. We depend on electrical appliances like computers and phones to keep our businesses running smoothly, and we’re running these appliances from sun-up to sun-down.

According to an article on fire investigations and causes from T.C. Forensic, a common cause of electrical fires is component fatigue i.e. overuse of an older appliance. 

To increase workplace safety and prevent electrical fires from occurring, we recommend completing regular risk assessments of all electrical appliances, cords, chargers and equipment, and discarding out-dated appliances.

Here are some tips to help your assessment:

  • Replace all out-dated appliances and machinery to avoid component fatigue.  
  • Make sure all machinery and appliances are serviced as recommended by manufacturers and is kept clean. 
  • Switch machinery and appliances off when the business is unattended. 
  • Never use damaged electrical leads or appliances. Make sure to check cords for damage and faults regularly, and replace them if damage is identified.

If you would like some help identifying hazardous situations in your business, or would like an expert to complete a risk assessment for you, get in touch with the team from GKT Group. We have more than a decade of experience in electrical and security, so we can help shine a light on the hazards in your business.

#4. Never overload a powerboard

Overloaded powerboards are a common problem in both homes and businesses alike Statistics show more than 350 house fires are started by overloaded powerboards in New South Wales each year – so you can imagine how often it occurs in the workplace!

With lots of appliances and few powerpoints to spare, it can be tempting to overload a powerboard in the workplace, especially in offices with lots of computers and chargers. However, overloading a powerboard creates an unnecessary risk to your safety.

Here are some powerboard safety tips to reduce the risk of electrical fires:

  • Don’t overload your powerboards. 
  • When purchasing powerboards, make sure they have a safety switch and overload protection. 
  • Don’t plug high wattage appliances into a powerboard. If they have a high wattage, we recommend plugging this directly into a powerpoint. 
  • When plugging appliances into a powerboard, make sure the plug is firmly set into the powerboard. 
  • Regularly check powerboards for damage or degradation. Look for frayed wires, burn marks, and discolouration. 
  • Make sure powerboards are plugged in where they can’t be touched by water, dirt, and debris. 
  • Keep powerboards on their side to ensure no dust and debris builds up inside the board. 
  • Make sure there’s proper ventilation around the powerboard to prevent your powerboards from overheating.

#5. Ensure staff members are properly trained

For all businesses, big and small, safety should be a number one priority. To keep your business running smoothly and risk free, team members need to know all the relevant health and safety information about their jobs, their workplace, the risks, and how to control the risks. 

There are a few ways you can train your team members in electrical and workplace safety. For example, you might like to hold a safety training day or evening (complete with pizza for an added incentive), provide refresher courses and handbooks with all the information they need to know to stay safe at work, and train team members on how to safely use the equipment they’ll be using on a day-to-day basis.

As a bare minimum, new team members should be taught all relevant safety measures as part of their induction, and team members should be supervised on the floor.

Make your workplace a safer place and reduce the risk of electrical fires today

As a business owner or manager, you’ve got a lot on your plate. From improving processes to training and managing team members, there’s a lot to take care of on a day-to-day basis – but improving the electrical safety of your business should be an ongoing priority.

Electrical fires are a common occurrence in homes and businesses around Australia. However, providing up-to-date safety training for your team members, checking smoke alarms, and completing regular risk assessments of your electrical appliances and cords can help reduce the risk of electrical malfunctions and fires.

If you’re concerned about the electrical hazards and risks associated with your business or industry, get in touch with the team from GKT Group. Our experienced electricians can help assess your electrical set-up and provide reliable advice to help improve the safety of your team members.

Contact GKT Group today for risk assessments and more info about electrical fire prevention for your business. 

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