Fire-fighting: Be prepared
Legislation requires an employer to provide firefighting equipment and safety rules to guarantee a safe workplace. Therefore, an employer must ensure that fire extinguishers are installed where necessary. Fire extinguishers can protect both the employees and equipment.
Different types of fire extinguishers (such as powder, CO2 and foam) are available on the market. They also come in different sizes. A risk analysis will determine which type (and size) should be installed in your operation. It is also very important to have mobile water firefighting units on the farm. These units have to be tested regularly, even when fires are not a threat.
Employees must get the necessary training to ensure that they know how to handle an emergency situation. During training, employees should be shown how to choose a suitable fire extinguisher. The fire extinguishers should be placed in areas based on the material that must be protected. During training, employees must also learn how to handle wildfires and what they should look out for.
The employer must ensure that all fire extinguishers are serviced regularly by an SAQCC- and SABS-accredited company. The contractor must provide proof of accreditation to the employer. A proof of service must also be placed on the fire extinguisher to indicate that it meets the legal requirements.
Access to fire extinguishers must not be obstructed. Safety signs should be posted where the fire extinguisher is installed. Clothes or bags may not be thrown over fire extinguishers. All firefighting equipment must be inspected monthly. This inspection should be recorded on a register as proof that the system has been checked. Any problems must be reported to the manager/supervisor.
The safety of employees must always be the first priority. Employees can be trained when a fire at a building or vehicle is extinguished. Emergency numbers must also be placed in the workplace. In the event of an emergency, a designated employee should contact the emergency services.
Publication: October 2022
Author: CHARL SAAYMAN, HEALTH AND SAFETY CONSULTANT AT MEGA HEALTH AND SAFETY