Electrical Fire Safety in the Workplace: Your 4-Point Guide

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: March 13, 2019

Technically, the majority of fires in office settings are caused by cooking equipment. Take into account that break room microwaves, hot plates and coffee pots all use the same type of power, and the statistics point to the second-most common source of workplace fires: the electricity that powers your building.

As a business owner or facility manager, you’re responsible for on-site electrical fire safety. How do you stay ahead of potentially dangerous problems?

Our teams see the aftermath of commercial property fires every day through our work as Chicago’s leading fire damage repair company. We believe in supporting the community, so we want to share our industry knowledge and help keep you, your employees and your customers safe.

Your 4-Point Guide to On-Site Electrical Fire Safety

Between keeping the lights on, running equipment and powering the HVAC system, your building’s electric grid carries an enormous load. Understanding its hazards and danger signs can help you develop smart preventative strategies and life-saving evacuation plans.

1. Identify Electrical Hazards in the Workplace

electrical fire hazard
Faulty circuit breakers can pose a serious electrical fire hazard

Regardless of a building’s construction or design, the integrity of its electrical system can become compromised. Chicago’s electrical codes apply to more than 460 types of structures, and they all can develop any of these common hazards that cause electrical fires.

• Badly wired or overloaded electrical outlets
• System wiring with too small a gauge to safely handle loads
• Faulty circuit breakers that can’t detect system overloads
• Incorrectly sized circuit breakers or fuses
• Overloaded systems that heat wiring and melt insulation
• Improperly grounded conduits, outlets and switch plates

2. Detect Dangerous Warning Signs

Electrical fire safety in the workplace depends on employee awareness. Include fire safety education in regular employee training updates so that workers recognize these warning signs that indicate electrical fire hazards.

• Repeatedly tripped circuit breakers and frequently blown fuses
• Circuit, fuse or junction boxes that overheat
• Frequently tripped Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters
• Tools or appliances that feel too warm to the touch
• Odor of burning metal or plastic near wall outlets or light fixtures
• Extension cords that overheat or fail to supply adequate power
• Discoloration around wall outlets
• Lights that flicker or make popping sounds

3. Develop Electrical Fire Safety Strategies

fire safety training workplace
Make sure your employees are familiar with fire safety protocols in your building

Effective electric fire prevention should be a well-developed policy with guidelines followed every day. Workplace safety depends on sticking to these routines that minimize danger and also satisfy Chicago’s strict building fire codes.

• Scheduled maintenance to keep fire sprinkler systems in top condition
• Proper storage of flammable materials and chemicals
• Fire exits clearly marked and free of anything that could block evacuation
• Clear access to all electrical panels and emergency shut-down controls
• Properly placed and rated fire extinguishers throughout the building
• Regular employee training on proper use of fire extinguishers
• Smoking areas clearly designated outside and away from the building

4. Keep Everyone Safe With Evacuation Plans

When any type of fire breaks out in a commercial building, lives depend on a safe evacuation. Whether you run a small store-front business or manage a high-rise office complex, you need a plan. Start by outlining an overview, and modify details with employee input.

• Determine the safest and quickest paths to fire exits.
• Print and post maps illustrating evacuation routes.
• Designate individuals to sound alarms, call firefighters and shut off electricity.
• Practice regular fire drills, and stress their life-saving importance.

As employees become familiar with evacuation procedures, they develop a sense of confidence that can help everyone stay better organized during an actual fire. Regular evacuation drills also make sure new employees know what to do in case of an emergency. Before starting a scheduled drill, always take time to refresh fire safety strategies.

Your Partner in Fire Safety

chicago fire restoration team

We’re committed to providing you with information and tips that help keep everyone safe in the workplace. If you find our overview of electrical hazards helpful, let us know through our Comments Section. If you’d like for us to cover other workplace topics, we invite you to share your ideas.

We’re proud of our reputation as one of the city’s highest-rated fire restoration contractors. You have our pledge to always do our best for the community. Depend on us here at ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba as your trusted fire damage repair company and your partner in workplace safety.