Does your small business have a fire safety plan? Large corporations would have such a plan drawn up as part of their workplace health and safety plan, but as a small business owner, such planning is up to you. So what needs to be included in your small business fire safety plan?
Do not allow potentially combustible material to accumulate. This means that any cardboard packaging or wooden pallets need to be appropriately and regularly disposed of as part of your cleaning roster. Do not allow these items (or anything else used in the course your business operations) to be stored in a way that would prevent access to a door or window that could be used as an emergency exit in the event of a fire.
Fire Safety Gear and Training
Just like in a residential dwelling, your small business needs to have appropriate fire safety gear. This includes a number of appropriately positioned fire extinguishers (the actual number of extinguishers would be determined by the size of your premises) and perhaps a fire blanket. Your staff needs to know how to use the fire extinguishers, and this can be as straightforward as requiring each staff member to read the usage instructions that come with the device. The fire extinguishers need to be charged and ready for operation at all times, and you might wish to arrange regular inspections by a fire servicing company to ensure that this is the case. It's one less thing that you need to remember!
Evacuation and Notification Plan
Your staff also need to know what to do in the event that your premises need to be evacuated. Ensure that all potential exit points are identified to allow for a safe and speedy evacuation. Designate a nearby meeting point where your staff are to gather. This could simply be in front of a neighbouring building, providing it's a minimum safe distance from any fire. The most senior member of staff on duty should be responsible for contacting emergency services.
It's not so much a fire safety tip as it is something that will allow your business to continue should the worst happen. Please ensure that your insurance is kept up to date. As a small business owner, this responsibility probably rests entirely on your shoulders, and it's critical that your insurance is not allowed to lapse. Fire damage to your goods and/or premises can be hugely problematic for any business, but when your losses are not covered by insurance, the results can be catastrophic and can easily put you out of business.
Compiling a fire safety plan for your small business doesn't have to be complicated, but it's vital that you have one. Please ensure that your plan is written down and that all staff members are provided with a copy.