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October 2016

Do you have the right fire extinguisher for your workplace?

Willard WebbPosted by Debra Willard Webb, RN, COHN-S 


It’s Fire Prevention Week, a great opportunity to educate your employees about best practices in the workplace and at home that can save their lives.  If prevention measures fall short and a fire breaks out, quick action is required.  Ensure people are safe and activate 911. Then, if your Emergency Action Plan calls for the use of portable fire extinguishers, knowing what fire extinguisher to use and how to use it properly is essential. 

The wrong extinguisher can endanger lives. Hazards like spreading combustible dust or chemicals, splashes of burning oil, electrical shocks, and even explosions can occur when the wrong extinguisher is used even with the best of intentions.

Using the right extinguisher for the burning material is critical.  That means being familiar with the symbols on portable extinguishers before the need arises. Training should include LOOKING at the symbols on portable fire extinguishers before using one to be sure the match is right.

Portable extinguishers are identified by the Fire Class they address. The Class is determined by the material inside the extinguisher. The material may be liquid or powder and is under pressure (thus the risk of splashing/spreading the flames). The Class is represented by a pictogram of the burning material intended to extinguish.


Here is a primer of common portable extinguishers:

Class A - Ash (Air-Pressurized Water) extinguishers   

  • Right for ordinary combustible materials such as paper, wood, cardboard, and most plastics.   The number on the rating label indicates the amount of water it holds and the amount of fire it can extinguish.
  • Never use water on grease/oil fires – splash and spread risk is high!

Class B - Barrel (Dry Chemical) extinguishers                         

  • Right for flammable or combustible liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, grease and oil. The number on the rating label indicates the approximate number of square feet of fire it can extinguish.

Class C - Current (Dry Chemical) extinguishers                      

  • Right for electrical equipment fires, such as appliances, wiring, circuit breakers and outlets.
  • Never use water on electrical fires - the risk of electrical shock is high!

Class K - Kitchen (Wet or Dry Chemicals for High Heat)  extinguishers

  • Right for cooking oils, trans-fats, or fats in cooking appliances and kitchens.
  • Never use water on grease/oil fires – splash and spread risk!

Class D - Dynamite (Specialized Dry Chemical) extinguishers                           

  • Right for specific chemical laboratory settings for fires that involve combustible metals, such as magnesium, titanium, potassium and sodium. For class D fires only.

The right extinguisher may put out a fire and save injury and property. But this can only happen when proper monthly inspections and yearly maintenance of extinguishers takes place and effective training is given to all affected employees.

Effective fire safety is easier with great resources; check out the following online tools: 


Oh the Pain! Avoiding Sprains and Strains

LarochellePosted by Greg LaRochelle, WCP

What do the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, and New England Patriots star tight end, Rob Gronkowski, have in common?  They both suffered a hamstring strain injury this year which caused a temporary setback from competing in their respective sport.  While strain and sprain injuries are fairly common among athletes in any sport, overexertion injuries rank first as the leading cause of disabling injury in the workplace.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, sprains, strains, or tears were the leading injury or illness in private industry and state and local government in 2014.  There were 420,870 of these cases requiring days away from work to recuperate and workers who suffered sprains, strains, or tears needed a median of 10 days away from work.

MEMIC is offering a free webinar on the topic of avoiding sprains and strains to policyholders on October 13th from 10:00 to 10:30am.  This half-hour webinar will describe the anatomical difference between a sprain and a strain, review the contributing factors leading to sprains and strains, discuss the general principles of safe lifting, and provide an overview of control measures for slip, trip, and fall prevention.  To register for this webinar or to request a schedule when new workshops and webinars are announced, click on this Workshops & Webinars link.

Check out some of our previous posts for tips on safe lifting, pushing vs. pulling, back pain and stretching.