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Step 1 - Identifying the fire hazards

For fire to occur there must be a source of ignition, fuel and oxygen. If all three are present and in close proximity in the workplace, then the fire risk could increase as a result. In the average workplace, fire hazards will fall into the first two categories, whilst the oxygen will be present in the air in the surrounding space. Occasionally oxygen can be found in chemical form (oxidising agents) or as a gas in cylinders or piped systems.

Potential sources of ignition could include:

  • naked flames smokers materials, matches, pilot flames, gas/oil heaters, gas welding, cookers, arson, etc.;
  • hot surfaces heaters, engines, boilers, machinery, lighting (e.g. halogen lamps), electrical equipment, etc.;
  • hot work welding, grinding, flame cutting;
  • friction drive belts, worn bearings, etc.; or
  • sparks static electricity, metal impact, grinding, electrical contacts/switches, etc.

Potential sources of fuel: anything that burns is a potential fuel, examples include:

  • solids textiles, wood, paper, card, plastics, rubber, PU foam, furniture, fixtures/fittings, packaging, waste materials, etc.
  • liquids solvents (petrol, white spirit, meths, paraffin, thinners, etc), paints, varnish, adhesives, etc.
  • gases LPG, acetylene.

Your risk assessment should list the potential sources of ignition and fuels that are present in your workplace.