~by Kara Masterson~
Industrial fires injure and kill hundreds of employees each year. They’re also responsible for billions of dollars in damage to property, products and equipment. While safety standards have improved in recent years, production facilities will always have some degree of risk to deal with. Luckily, nowadays there are multiple things you can do to help prevent accidents like this.
Here are just a few ideas to reduce the risk of fire:
Fires can start virtually anywhere, often without warning. In an emergency, it may become necessary to shut down power to part of the building. Make sure there are no obstructions that may hinder someone’s ability to access the circuit breakers inside. Make sure there’s also free access to fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems and all exits.
2) Good Workplace Housekeeping
Trash and clutter can provide fuel for fires, especially in industrial settings. Keep desks, tables and shelves clear or anything that might either burn or react with other materials. Keep walkways clear as well to ensure that workers can get away quickly in an emergency.
Always follow recommended procedures to prevent igniting flammable chemicals or vapors. Read all labels and make sure employees understand how to avoid generating dangerous static electricity. Be sure that you are always using the right laboratory electric mixer to mix materials safely and help avoid fires. Luckily, you can find various accessories for laboratory air mixers online.
4) Proper Disposal
Make sure all waste is disposed of properly. Oily rags belong in special containers that are covered to contain fires caused by spontaneous combustion. Allowing them to overfill defeats their purpose, as the lid may be unable to close properly.
5) Machine Maintenance
Make sure all machines in your facility are working properly at all times, and don’t use them if they are not. Get them fixed right away and make every effort to update them as needed. Tell employees to immediately report all issues with machinery to their supervisors to avoid overheating them. Remember not to attempt electrical repairs yourself unless you are qualified to do so.
6) Proper Handling and Storage of Chemicals
Make sure all workers are familiar with the Material Safety Data Sheets for chemicals used at your facility. These sheets provide important data regarding the flammability of these substances, as well as how they should be handled and stored. They should be available to any employee who requests them.
7) Designated Smoking Areas
While tobacco use is on the decline, you’re likely to have some employees who still smoke. Make sure there’s a special smoking area available for them that is safely away from machinery and hazardous chemicals. Enforce the smoking rules judiciously and make sure all workers understand the importance of proper extinguishing of their smoking materials.
Although it’s not possible to completely eradicate the risk of fire and explosion, there are steps you can take to minimize it. The tips listed above are a great way to start and can be applied to virtually any facility that relies on chemicals or machinery.
Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from West Jordan, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max.