Under federal law, employees have a right to a safe work environment. This includes working in an environment that adheres to fire safety regulations. The attorneys at Azrael, Franz, Schwab and Lipowitz have provided information employees should know pertaining to their employers’ fire safety responsibilities.
Emergency Fire Plans
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration outlines that every employer should have a fire safety plan in place, and make clear what employee expectations are in the event that a fire should occur. A workplace must have enough exits located appropriately throughout a structure to efficiently evacuate all employees quickly. Further, designated fire exits are not to be blocked or obstructed in any way, at any time.
While all employers are not required to have an emergency plan, employers who do implement a plan must adhere to certain guidelines. According to the OSHA Fire Safety Fact Sheet, plans must include the following:
- Account for all employees.
- Describe the exit route employees should take when an emergency occurs.
- Include evacuation procedures for those with disabilities.
- Address evacuation of employees who stay behind for essential duties.
- Include preferred means of alerting employees to a fire emergency.
- Provide for an employee alarm system throughout the workplace.
- Require an alarm system that includes voice communication or sound signals such as bells, whistles, or horns.
- Make the evacuation signal known to employees.
- Ensure emergency training.
- Require employer review of the plan with new employees and with all employees whenever the plan is changed.
All employers are not required to have fire extinguishers under OSHA regulation. However, such devices can be an integral part of protecting employees in the event of a fire. If an employer does have extinguishers within the workplace, they are required to properly train their employees how to use the device.
Fire Safety Guidance for Small Businesses
OSHA has provided a checklist for small business owners and managers to ensure that they do not overlook vital aspects to maintaining a fire safe workplace. It is important to make note that small business owners should verify that the fire department has inspected a workplace, and is familiar with the building’s potential fire hazards. Also, this checklist emphasizes having fire safety equipment, doors and plans inspected on a routine basis, as this is the best way to maintain preparedness.
The attorneys at Azrael, Franz, Schwab and Lipowitz understand the devastation that fires can cause, and have dedicated their service to helping burn injury and fire victims to receive the compensation that they deserve. If you have questions about fire safety, or employer fire safety responsibilities, contact Azrael, Franz, Schwab and Lipowitz.