Fire extinguishers. Just their presence provides employees with a sense of security. They indicate a desire for safety. “I’m safe. There’s the fire extinguisher.”
Few employers and employees, however, think of the next step. That they’ll actually have to use it. Yet, most of them have no idea how. This means you are exposing your employees to increased risk of injury through the use of fire extinguishers without training on their use and on the basics of fire behavior. In turn, this creates increased risk of loss to the business and property.
Burns, frostbite from Co2, trips and falls, and chemical inhalation are just a few of the injuries employees experience through use of fire extinguishers without appropriate training.
OSHA does not require employers provide fire extinguishers but local fire codes, insurers, and other third parties do. This means that fire extinguishers will be present and that means employers must provide training and education to employees on the use of fire extinguishers.
Which employees you have to train, if any, are spelled out in the OSHA regulations
No training is required where the employer has an OSHA compliant emergency action plan and a fire prevention plan and evacuates all employees to a safe location when a fire occurs.
Where an employer has an OSHA compliant emergency action plan and a fire prevention plan and evacuates all employees except those who are designated and authorized to use fire extinguishers, then training must be provided to those authorized employees.
For all other situations, all employees must be trained in the use of portable fire extinguishers and the hazards involved in incipient (initial or beginning) stage firefighting.
OSHA regulations require that training be given upon an employee’s hire and every year after. Treat fire extinguisher training seriously. This is fire. This is a life hazard. Once you’ve made the choice that employees will have access to and use of fire extinguishers, you’ve placed them in a potential scenario that they’ve likely never experienced. This means that an employee’s reaction to a workplace fire is uncontrollable and unpredictable. That’s a terrible combination for the employee and the business.
Most training tools do nothing to assure controlled, predictable behavior. Written instructions and guidance, or in person demonstrations by a manager, or training videos are available. All of them, however, are theoretical. Rarely will training involve hands-on use against an actual workplace fire. One option satisfies these critical training gaps.
The solution is Virtual Reality fire extinguisher training. VR training immerses employees in workplace fire situations. They experience how the extinguisher feels and operates against a fire and how the fire reacts. What happens when an extinguisher is used on a microwave? With a VR headset and extinguisher, they get the experience like no other training tool.