Does OSHA Require Hands-on Fire Training?

June 2, 2021 6:03 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) places certain requirements on businesses to keep workers safe. Many employers in Longview, TX ask if it’s required to have hands-on fire extinguisher training. The answer is that while it isn’t required in many instances, every workplace would benefit from hands-on practice with fire extinguishers.

Fire extinguisher training requirements

The assumption based on OSHA rules is that your employees will be able to pick up and use a fire extinguisher in the event of an emergency. OSHA states in its guidelines that employers must provide employees with “an educational program to familiarize [them] with the general principles of fire extinguisher use.” It’s required for employers that have portable fire extinguishers to offer this training program on an annual basis at minimum.

The question then is whether education must include hands-on training. OSHA does specify that it’s not required for employers to offer “formal classroom instruction.” The common interpretation is that employees need to be familiar with the use of fire extinguishers and the hazards associated with early-stage fires, but no hands-on training is required. Therefore, this education could include safety videos, online classes or informational brochures.

The benefits of hands-on training

While it may not be technically mandated by law to provide fire extinguisher training in your Longview, TX business, the fact remains that this is a vital safety practice. It is even required in some cases where employees are designated as fire watch officers, which is a common practice.

This can be helpful for employers—training is provided to specific employees who are then designated to use fire extinguishers in the event of an emergency. Employers who designate employees on fire watch can then train them using hands-on techniques, but do not need to train other employees in the same way.

OSHA has said that hands-on training need not include “live fire demonstration.” Instead, hands-on training can include the discharging of fire extinguishers that are “appropriate for the types of fires expected” in a particular work environment.

Fire extinguishers as part of a fire safety plan

Every workplace should have a comprehensive fire plan that includes education on recognizing fire hazards, procedures for reporting a fire and guidelines for responding in the event of a fire. Having this organized plan and reviewing it with employees on a regular basis will mean that your staff will be prepared for any emergency situation. You want to be confident that your employees won’t panic and will be able to walk away from a fire.

For everything related to fire safety and fire extinguisher training in Longview, TX, trust the expert team at Anchor Safety Inc. With more than 30 years in business, our team specializes in consultation, service, sales and installation for fire protection systems for homes, offices, restaurants, computer server rooms and document rooms. You can trust us when it comes to your fire safety. Give us a call for a free estimate and to learn more about what we can do to keep your space safe.

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