OSHA U.S. Department of Labor

Program Highlight - Fact Sheet No. OSHA 91-41

Fire safety is important business. National Fire Prevention Week is intended to focus on the importance of fire safety in the home, in schools and at work. But workplace fire safety is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) principal focus and saving lives and preventing injuries due to fire is a key concern.

According to National Safety Council figures, losses due to workplace fires in 1988 totaled $3.1 billion. Of the more than 5,000 persons who lost their lives due to fires in 1988, the National Safety Council estimates 360 were workplace deaths.

There is a long and tragic history of workplace fires in this country. One of the most notable was the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City in 1911 in which nearly 150 women and young girls died because of locked fire exits and inadequate fire extinguishing systems.

History has repeated itself recently in the fire in Hamlet, North Carolina, where 25 workers died in a fire in a poultry processing plant. It appears that here, too, there were problems with fire exits and extinguishing systems.

When OSHA conducts workplace inspections, it checks to see whether employers are complying with OSHA standards for fire safety.

OSHA standards require employers to provide proper exits, fire fighting equipment, emergency plans, and employee training to prevent fire deaths and injuries in the workplace.

Building Fire Exits

Emergency Evacuation Planning

 Fire Prevention Plan

Fire Suppression System

This is one of a series of fact sheets highlighting U.S. Department of Labor programs. It is intended as a general description only and does not carry the force of legal opinion.