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25/03/2021

Smoking in the workplace

There are more risks than the most obvious ones

Burning cigarette packet

Apart from the obvious health and financial benefits that stopping may bring, we are highlighting the risks that are present in the workplace from smoking.

If cigarettes and other smoking materials are not disposed of in an appropriate way, they can create a source of ignition and a fire may occur. A cigarette can smoulder for hours after use if it hasn’t been put out fully, and combustible materials within the waste bin are then exposed to the source of heat.

Group Commander Phill Mould, Head of Protection and responsible for business engagement, said;

“Throughout the past 12 months, Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service has attended more than 40 property fires that were found to have started from smoking related materials. These avoidable incidents cost lives, damage property and present a risk to our community and economy.

“Businesses must adopt a safe smoking policy, whereby employees can use designated smoking areas only. These areas are safer in their design with the disposal of smoking materials into metal ash trays and being emptied regularly.

“The safe smoking policy must be reinforced with suitable signage around the premises stating the areas that smoking is prohibited and permitted. Businesses should be reminded that under government legislation it is an offence to smoke within the workplace, and those found to be non-compliant can be fined.”

E-cigarettes

Over recent years we have seen an increase in the use of electronic cigarettes. Although that we attend fewer of these fires than those caused by cigarettes, e-cigarettes still present a risk.

E-cigarettes fall within the same classification as smoking materials, and as such are only permitted for use within the designated smoking areas. Charging leads should be in a good state of repair and must not be used in the workplace if they are not certified as safe.  Charging leads plugged into E-cigarettes should not be left unattended.

Shisha bars

Shisha bars, sometimes, referred to as hookah cafés, are open air canopy premises where individuals go to smoke tobacco mixed with fruit flavourings. These premises must abide by laws set in place such as The Health Act 2006 where it is a criminal offence to permit smoking in public places or workplaces if they are enclosed.

Smoke-free legislation applies to any person who is in control of or concerned with the management of a smoke free premises. It also applies to employees, customers, and visitors. Failure to comply with smoke-free legislation is a criminal offence and may lead to a fine.

Buckinghanshire Fire & Rescue Service has previously attended incidents where careless disposal of hookah coals used within sessions have led to accidental fires.  There have also been incidents caused by coals being carelessly discarded.

At the end of each session, the coals used must be fully extinguished. This is done by soaking the hot coals under cold water using a heat-proof container such as ceramic containers. The extinguished coals should be disposed of into an appropriate container such as a metal waste bin that contains no other combustible materials. Hookah coals can smoulder over a long period of time and care must be taken that they do not reignite.

Further information on smoking is available from the links below.


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