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News Release USDL: 96-423
Tuesday, October 8, 1996
Contact: Stephen Gaskill, (202) 219-6091

Labor Secretary Reich Unveils Workplace Fire Safety Tips

Note: That Workplace Fires and Explosions Kill 200 Each Year, Destroy $2.3 Billion of Property

Fire safety becomes everyone's job at a worksite, Secretary of Labor Robert B. Reich said today as he unveiled a list of workplace fire safety tips in observation of National Fire Prevention Week. Workplace fires and explosions kill 200 and injure more than 5,000 workers each year. In 1995, more than 75,000 workplace fires cost businesses more than $2.3 billion.

"Fires wreak havoc among workers and their families and destroy thousands of businesses each year, putting people out of work and severely impacting their livelihoods," Reich said. "The human and financial toll underscores the serious nature of workplace fires."

Reich made his remarks to recognize National Fire Prevention Week, which runs this year from October 6-12.

"There is a long and tragic history of workplace fires in this country," Reich said. "One of the most notable was the 1911 fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City, in which nearly 150 women and young girls died because of locked fire exits and inadequate fire extinguishing systems. That tragedy helped put basic workplace safety and health considerations on the national agenda."

Reich urged employers to survey their workplaces to determine whether they have adequate readily accessible fire exits, fire alarm systems, the proper number and types of fire extinguishers, proper and rehearsed fire evacuation plans.

Under Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, employees have the right to complain to OSHA about fire hazards in their workplaces. If employees request it, OSHA will keep their identities confidential to avoid the possibility of reprisals by their employers.

Fire safety tips Reich listed are:

  • Eliminate Fire Hazards: Keeping workspaces free of waste paper and other combustibles, replacing damaged electrical cords and avoiding overloaded circuits.

  • Prepare for Emergencies: Making sure all smoke detectors work, knowing who to call in an emergency and participating in fire drills.

  • Report Fires and Emergencies Promptly: Sounding the fire alarm and calling the fire department.

  • Evacuate Safely: Leaving the area quickly in an emergency, using stairs instead of the elevator, and helping your coworkers.

A single free copy of an OSHA Program Highlight on Workplace Fire Safety and a copy of OSHA Booklet 3088, "How to Prepare for Workplace Emergencies," may be obtained by sending a self-addressed label to the U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA/OSHA Publications, PO Box 37535, Washington DC 20013.


Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents

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