5 Business Safety Essentials

Posted in:

shutterstock_242929111

As a business owner, it’s important to keep your business premises safe and secure. This’ll ensure the safety, health, and wellbeing of your employees. Keeping the workplace safe can also protect you from losses, liabilities, and exposures to lawsuits.

The things you should protect your business from include fire, electrical hazards, dust explosions, and accidents. How do you keep your business safe from all the potential hazards? Check out these five business safety essentials.

1. Fire extinguishers

When there’s fire in the workplace, a fire extinguisher can put it out or control it until the fire services arrive. This can save lives, equipment, and property.

Choosing your extinguisher

A fire extinguisher must have the seal of an independent testing laboratory, and labelled with standard symbols for the classes of fires it can extinguish. There are three basic classes of fires:

  • Class A – Ordinary combustibles like wood, paper, plastics, cloth, and rubber.
  • Class B – Flammable liquids like gasoline, grease, oil-based paint, flammable gas, oil, tar, and lacquer.
  • Class C – Energised electrical equipment such as wiring, circuit breakers, appliances, fuse boxes, and machinery.

A red slash through any of the symbols means the extinguisher can’t be used on that type of fire. Some fire extinguishers can be used on all classes of fires.

The fire extinguisher you choose should also be big enough to put out the fire it’s intended to extinguish. It’ll have a rating on the label for the size of fire it can handle, eg 1 to 40 for Class A fires and 1 to 640 for Class B fires. The higher the number, the bigger the fire that the extinguisher can put out.

You can also choose between a rechargeable extinguisher and a disposable one. The latter must be replaced after one use.

Installing your extinguisher

Install your fire extinguisher in an accessible location, near an escape route, and away from dangerous equipment and appliances. It must also be in good working order and fully charged.

2. Extension cords

If you don’t have enough cord for a radio or lamp to reach the nearest outlet, an extension cord will do the trick. But you should only use it as a temporary solution and then put it away when a more permanent fix is in place.

When you use an extension cord continuously over time, it can deteriorate quickly which can create a potentially dangerous electric shock or fire hazard.

When you’re using extension cords there are several things you must keep in mind:

  • Don’t overload extension cords or run them through water on the ground.
  • Never run extension cords behind desks or through doorways, walls, floors, or ceilings.
  • Use one extension cord for one appliance.
  • Install additional outlets where necessary to reduce your reliance on extension cords.
  • Plug multiple plug outlets directly into mounted electrical receptacles; don’t chain them together.
  • Make sure extension cords and temporary power strips are rated for the products to be plugged in, and marked for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Match up the wattage rating on an appliance or tool with the extension cord, and don’t use a cord with a lower rating.
  • Never use a damaged extension cord or one that feels hot.
  • Use extension cords that have polarised and/or three-prong plugs.
  • Don’t use a three-prong plug with an outlet that only has two slots for the plug, and don’t force a plug into an outlet if it doesn’t fit.
  • Only buy extension cords approved by an independent testing laboratory.
  • Don’t use extension cords in place of permanent wiring.

3. Anti-dusting equipment

Too much dust in the workplace can be very dangerous. It can either be from coal, silica, cement, asbestos, grain, flour, wood, metals, or materials like leather and rubber. A cloud of concentrated dust is potentially combustible and can cause fires or explosions. Dust can also cause illnesses and conditions like eye and nose damage, rashes, asthma, silicosis, mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer related to asbestos.

You can prevent and reduce the risks from dust by having anti-dusting equipment in place, such as:

  • An exhaust ventilation system – This removes dust from a particular site.
  • A dilution ventilation system – This disperses dust evenly throughout a specific area, preventing it from building up into a concentrated mass within a particular spot.
  • A vacuum – One that is approved for dust collection. You can use it to clean dust from surfaces.

Moreover, your dust collection and extraction system must conform to local requirements such as the fire code. The inlet should be located as close as possible to the dust-producing process. When you install the system, make sure to follow required standards and codes. Where possible, place dust collectors outdoors.

4. Protective equipment

Fire, electric shocks, dust explosions, flying chips, and splashes of toxic material can all cause serious injuries and illnesses. You can also keep your employees safe from these dangers and other potential hazards by having them wear protective clothing or equipment. This can include:

  • Breathing respirators
  • Safety glasses or goggles
  • Face shields or masks
  • Safety helmets
  • Ear muffs and ear plugs
  • Fall arrest harnesses for those working at heights
  • Gloves, gauntlets, and sunscreen for skin protection
  • High visibility vests, life jackets, and coveralls
  • Safety boots and rubber boots.

You should inform, train, and instruct your employees on how to use, wear, store, and maintain their protective equipment to ensure their safety.

Choosing protective equipment

You should consider the following factors when choosing protective equipment:

  • Whether the size and fit are suitable for each worker
  • Whether it’s comfortable to wear and workers are involved in choosing it
  • Whether it protects workers from all potential hazards related to their work
  • Whether it can be used with other protective equipment
  • How long it’ll have to be worn for
  • Individual circumstances and medical conditions of workers, eg wearing of prescription glasses and latex allergy
  • How the work’s carried out and the level of risk
  • Demands of the work activity, eg level of physical activity or dexterity required
  • Impacts of a hot and humid work environment.

Most importantly, choose protective equipment that meets current Australian Standards.

5. Unplug electrical equipment

Electrical equipment in the workplace can include computers, telephones, TVs, aerials, kitchen appliances, heating and cooling systems, and electric machines.

Unplugging electrical equipment is also essential to keeping your business safe. Here are some tips:

  • Before a storm or wet season, unplug TVs and non-fixed aerials and store them in a dry area.
  • When a storm approaches, turn off and unplug electrical equipment.
  • If you’ve lost power during a storm or flood or to avoid shock, switch off power points and then unplug electrical equipment.
  • Turn off and, if safe to do so, unplug damaged or suspect electrical equipment. Don’t continue to use it, put a label on it showing it’s faulty, and report it so it can be tested, repaired, or replaced.
  • Switch off and unplug any electrical equipment that are wet if safe to do so.
  • When you remove electrical equipment from power points or unplug power cords, make sure to grasp the plug not the cord to prevent damage to the wiring.

Keeping your business safe

By having these essential items in place and following the safety tips, you can keep your business safe for you and your employees. While it’s important to have the right equipment, make sure that the rest of the building’s infrastructure is up to scratch. If the building has a sprinkler system for fires consult a plumber to make sure the water supply network is in good condition.

You can further maintain electrical safety in the workplace by enlisting the help of Platinum Electricians. All our electricians are highly qualified, fully licensed, and comply with Workplace Health and Safety standards. We care deeply about the quality of our work and we have strict quality controls to make sure you’re getting the best. We also provide a lifetime warranty on all our repairs and installations. Contact us today for a free consultation.