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What Are The Most Common Causes of Workplace Fires?

What Are The Most Common Causes of Workplace Fires?

Being aware of the potential causes of fire and ways in which to minimise them is imperative to lowering fire risk and avoiding potential losses to your business.

In addition, greater awareness of fire causes will also help you reduce or remove any potential harm to your employees or visitors to your work site.

To help you identify some of the common risks we’ve listed areas to pay close attention to, so you can factor them into your emergency evacuation plans.

Staff Kitchens

A lot of business sites with more than a couple of employees often have a designated kitchen space for staff. This may be as simple as a kettle and fridge, or more kitted out with electrical appliances like toaster ovens and microwaves, or a gas stove top.

Having electrical appliances tested and tagged by professionals will go a long way to keeping the site safer, but it’s also important to make sure the right fire safety equipment, such as correct fire extinguishers and fire blankets, are installed in the area.

fire alarms
Photo by Arièle Bonte on Unsplash.


Make sure you have a designated staff smoking area that is kept clear of flammable materials, including dry grass or trees and dry debris, chemicals and waste or recycling bins. Ensure you equip the area with separate smoking bins or ashtrays and that they are used by staff to properly put out their cigarette butts. During fire safety training or other OHS courses, ensure your staff know and understand the dangers associated with smoking in your workplace, and where possible encourage smokers to refrain from smoking at work.

Flammable Products

For some businesses, having combustible materials at your workplace is a necessity, so ensuring fire risk is minimised can take some careful planning. Having safe procedures for storage, handling, moving and disposal of these products, and ensuring all staff coming into contact with them have the right training, will go a long way towards keeping fire risk low, but you also can’t forget the installation and maintenance of appropriate fire safety equipment.

Faulty Electrical Equipment

Common in every household as well as workplaces, electrical equipment and appliances are scattered throughout our daily lives. Most electrical goods are long lasting – having life span of over ten years – so, having them checked and tested will significantly lower fire risk from any faults they may gain over their lifetime. Have all electrical items regularly and professionally tagged and tested throughout your workplace to ensure they’re still appropriate and safe for use.

fire hydrant
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.


Arson is an unfortunate cause of fire that is particularly prevalent on larger industrial worksites. Keeping all flammable materials cleared from around the exterior of your building will give vandals and arsonists less to work with, while fire sprinklers and monitored alarm systems inside will ensure an effective initial response after hours. Security measures, such as CCTV and automatic lighting will also deter and identify arsonists, and can also help after any incident if any damage did occur.

Misuse of Equipment

We all know accidents happen, and misusing tools or equipment in the workplace results in hundreds of fires around Australia each year. To avoid this all staff should be inducted and trained to properly use each piece of equipment they may need to handle, and to be aware of the dangers of misusing any equipment on purpose. Of course, having the appropriate fire safety equipment installed nearby is always an important preventative measure for when accidental misuse does occur.

While this isn’t a complete list of everything that can go wrong with fire hazards in your workplace, we hope it’s enough to get you thinking about the potential hazards that can be specific to your business.

Staff fire training and having the correct fire extinguishers installed are a great starting point for keeping your workplace fire safe.

For more information about workplace fire safety, or to make an appointment for our expert fire safety team to conduct an obligation free visit to your site, simply give our friendly Melbourne fire services team a call today!

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