A guide to security and fire safety for your workplace

A Guide to Security and Fire Safety in Workplace | The Enterprise World

Property security and fire safety in workplace must be taken seriously. Government figures show there were an estimated 16,500 office and retail property fires reported in 2020, causing a total of $932 million in direct property damage, with supporting data from OSHA finding workplace fires and explosions account for 200 deaths and over 5,000 injuries per year.

Additionally, almost 7 million property crimes are committed in the US during an average year, resulting in estimated financial losses of almost $16 billion. Couple this with an annual average of 1.3 million nonfatal workplace violence incidents and it becomes clear that security must also be prioritized. 

Protecting employees and valuable assets from these threats will require the implementation of preventative measures alongside strict security and safety protocols, with all employees, visitors and guests made aware of how to respond to potential dangers. For business owners looking to improve safety policies, this post will act as a guide to security and fire safety in workplace.

fire safety in workplace and prevention

For fire safety in workplace to be appropriately prepared to both prevent and respond to fires, a combination of fire protection technologies and emergency protocols must be considered and implemented. 

Fire hazard assessments

First and foremost, a fire hazard assessment must be performed to identify potential risks and allow teams to develop actionable solutions. A fire protection professional should be brought into the property to conduct an official assessment, with the facility manager present to assist. You can also contact a safety rescue service company.

Both individuals must complete a walkthrough of the property in search of any systems that are not up to code, any areas that are not suitably protected from fires and any additional fixtures or items that may represent a fire hazard. An effective fire hazard assessment will involve:

  • Identifying potential fire hazards
  • Identifying high-risk employees
  • Evaluating and implementing solutions
  • Creating an emergency response plan
  • Scheduling appropriate staff training
  • Regularly reviewing risk assessments

OSHA requirements

A Guide to Security and Fire Safety in Workplace | The Enterprise World

With regards to fire safety in workplace, OSHA requires that businesses provide employees with well-maintained portable fire extinguishers and accessible fire alarm systems.

Business owners must ensure that portable fire extinguishers are:

  • Easily accessed by employees
  • Fully charged and pressurized 
  • Regularly inspected by fire safety professionals

Additionally, all employees must be trained at least once per year in how to safely operate fire extinguishers, activate fire suppression systems and respond to active fire and smoke alarms. 

Further OSHA fire safety requirements include:

  • The presence of adequate and clearly signposted exit routes discharging to a safe area
  • Properly installed and maintained fire detection and fire suppression systems
  • Easily accessed and clearly visible alarm systems 
  • The creation of an Emergency Action Plan (EAP)
  • Frequent staff training programs covering the above requirements 

Fire suppression and detection systems

Automatic fire suppression and detection systems must be installed in all modern workplaces to ensure staff and guests are adequately protected from fires. Alongside active smoke detectors, employers may choose to install heat and flame detectors to improve incident response times.

There are several different types of fire suppression systems available to modern businesses, with each designed to fight fires in specific environments. Suitable suppression systems include:

  • Water-based – Suitable in most environments, but shouldn’t be used around electronics 
  • Chemical foam – Typically found in kitchens, used to extinguish oil and grease fires
  • Pressurized gas – Suitable for use in server rooms and areas with high-end electronics
  • Pneumatic heat – These systems are heat activated and designed to fight small fires 
  • Foam deluge – Often used outdoors where water suppression systems cannot be used

Responding to fires in the workplace

All employees must understand how to safely respond to a fire safety in workplace. If a fire is detected, employees should remain calm and remember a few basic rules:

  • Employees are not required to attempt to extinguish fires, even if they’re provided with the tools to do so
  • If an employee notices and incipient-stage fire, they must quickly decide whether to fight the fire using provided tools or trigger the site’s fire alarms, this decision must be made and executed promptly 
  • Employees must be trained to react quickly to fires without waiting for further instruction 

Employers must also design and implement a detailed fire safety in workplace and evacuation plan for staff to follow in the event of a fire, plans must be specific to the property and contain information regarding the following points: 

  • The location of, and safest route towards emergency exits 
  • Assurances that a minimum of two exits routes are available to staff
  • Information regarding the activation of emergency lighting systems 
  • Education plans and training programs for employees
  • A designated safe meeting point 
  • Records regarding employees with mobility needs, including special arrangements

Physical security in the workplace

A Guide to Security and Fire Safety in Workplace | The Enterprise World

Physical security considerations go hand-in-hand with fire safety in workplace, helping to ensure staff can safely exit the property during emergencies, and preventing intruders from entering private sites to cause harm. This section will cover physical security requirements for modern workplaces.

Physical security risk assessments

Primarily, employers must perform a risk assessment to ensure all physical security systems are able to protect employees from common threats. Common physical security risks include:

  • Burglary and theft
  • Vandalism
  • Unauthorized intrusion
  • Violence 
  • Natural disasters 

Installed physical security systems and wider security policies must be designed to mitigate the harm caused by these events, in keeping with the unique requirements of individual properties.

Intrusion prevention and access control

All commercial properties must operate some form of managed access control to ensure only authorized individuals can enter secure locations. For example, a commercial door entry system for employees whereby staff are issued physical credentials to be scanned by installed access readers will help to deter unauthorized persons from entering private properties to improve on-site security.

Access control systems can be further improved via integrations with additional devices, helping security personnel to detect and respond to threats more efficiently, common examples include:

  • Internet of Things (IoT) devices – IoT motion and sound sensors can be integrated into access systems to automatically secure access points in response to suspected threats
  • Biometrics – Biometric scanners can be connected to high-security access readers for multi-factor authentication functionality via facial recognition, fingerprint or retina scans
  • CCTV – Video security cameras can be linked to nearby access readers, allowing teams to view and assess access events remotely to identify potential threats efficiently 

Video security systems

A Guide to Security and Fire Safety in Workplace | The Enterprise World

Video security systems must be in place to support security staff in identifying potential threats promptly and effectively. Cloud-based systems allow teams to access and view camera feeds remotely, providing teams with a holistic view of the property at all times, whilst integrations with AI analytics software can help staff to identify threats such as fires and intruders autonomously.

Physical security checklist

To help employers assess existing physical security systems and plan appropriate upgrades, below is a general checklist covering physical security requirements for commercial properties.

  • Sensors and alarms – All potential points of entry must be alarmed to ensure prompt response times, this includes main doors, egress points, delivery bays and windows
  • Access control – Entry to commercial properties must be secured behind managed access control, with high-security areas further protected using multi-factor credentials
  • Video security – CCTV cameras should be installed covering the perimeter of the site and all access points, with cloud-based systems providing remote-access functionality
  • Data disposal – Digital and physical files containing identifiable data must be destroyed when no longer needed, papers must be shredded and old tech must be removed by a reputable e-waste disposal service
  • Frequent audits – All active security devices and policies must be frequently assessed to ensure systems are up-to-date and potential vulnerabilities are suitably addressed


All employees and guests entering commercial properties must be suitably protected from fires and intrusion events, with training programs and plans in place to ensure all residents know how to operate installed systems and safely evacuate the workplace. Using a combination of security technologies, considered policies and frequent training programs, employers can provide staff with the tools required to prevent, report and respond to threats to improve property security.


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