Fire safety is an important consideration in any commercial facility, be it an office, retail store, warehouse or hospitality venue. For most businesses, fire safety extends to regular fire evacuation drills, exit sign testing, emergency procedure refreshers and multiple extinguishers placed throughout the building. However, statistics released by Fire and Safety Australia paint a different picture.

Evergreen Walls examines the true state of fire safety in the workplace and outlines simple strategies to stay safe.

The state of fire safety in Australian workplaces

Commercial facilities in Australia take fire safety and compliance very seriously. Even small commercial offices are legally obliged to be subjected to regular testing of alarms, extinguishers, signage and evacuation.

Therefore, the observations by Fire and Safety Australia do come as a surprise. Key findings included: Less than 50% of employees are confident about what evacuative action should be taken during a fire emergency; less than 50% of employees feel confident about operating a fire extinguisher; less than 25% of employees could locate their nearest fire extinguisher from memory; over 50% of employees operated a fire extinguisher in a dangerous manner; and only 13% of employees were aware of the different kinds of fire extinguishers needed to put out specific classes of fire.

Inadequate training of employees is an obvious hurdle for businesses trying to improve workplace fire safety. Fire and Safety Australia recommends training sessions that include evacuation exercises, extinguisher exercises and knowledge tests to up-skill employees.

Hazardous materials in the workplace

While poor fire awareness among employees is a clear risk in the workplace, there are other hazards that need to be factored in when creating a fool-proof fire safety plan. For instance, the use of non-compliant building materials have contributed to several fire tragedies, such as the Grenfell Tower fire in the United Kingdom, and Melbourne’s Lacrosse building fire.

In an office, apartment or retail environment, common fire hazards can go beyond non-compliant building materials. These include:

Damaged power cords on electrical equipment: Look out for computer cables, printers, removable media such as hard drives, and desktop lights.

Combustible materials: Potentially combustible materials in an office include loose paper and kitchen waste, while retail settings face risk from clothes, discarded packaging and non-fire safe wall fixtures.

Appliances: Faulty appliances pose an ever-present risk in office, retail and residential environments.

Using fire-safe products in the office

Artificial plant walls are increasingly being integrated into interior design plans in homes, apartments, offices and retail stores, which is why it’s imperative that they meet and exceed fire safety requirements. Evergreen Walls understands the importance of fire safe products; all Evergreen artificial green wall panels come with a Group 2 fire certification.

The Evergreen panel was the first artificial green wall product to be subjected to a full-scale fire test in accordance with industry standards AS ISO 9705-2003 and AS 5637.1:2015. The test was conducted in a laboratory in Victoria, with a total of 45 panels analysed for heat release rate, smoke output and several other factors.

Get in touch with Evergreen Walls to learn more about improving the fire safety of your office with certified fitout products.