According to the OHS Act 85 of 1993 an employer has the responsibility of:
“providing such information, instructions, training and supervision as may be necessary to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of his employees; “
This will obviously include the relevant information, instructions, training and supervision with regards to fire safety.
While most people will probably never experience a fire emergency in their workplace, it is still imperative that safety precautions are put in place and every person in the workplace is informed and trained in safety procedures. Not only the designated Safety Officer should be equipped to deal with an emergency situation; everyone in the workplace should.
Fire Safety Elements include:
- Basic training should include the following essentials:
- How fire works.
- Types of fires. (Classes of fires etc.)
- Use of fire equipment.
- Types of fire extinguishers.
- Emergency protocols.
Employees should be aware of precautions and practical, logical steps everyone can take to prevent fires in the first place. Examples can be that all heaters or fans should be unplugged after a work day, only designated smoking areas may be used, where people work with chemicals – sufficient ventilation etc.
Emergency plans should be explained and displayed in the workplace. Fire fighting equipment is to be inspected regularly. Emergency routes and exits must be kept clear and accessable at all times. According to the OHS regulations, one in every 50 employees should have some basic fire fighting training.
Fire drills are to be practiced on a regular basis. The safety procedures will be of no use if people are not able to put them into practice. Repeated fire drills and evaluation of the efficacy of these procedures are important and a matter of life and death.