When you are a business owner, with any kind of industrial operations, industrial fire prevention and protection must be prioritized.
Due to the large-scale nature of your business, the heavy dependency on different equipment, and the usage of hazardous materials, the general risk of industrial fires and related emergencies are unfortunately very high!
Equipping yourself completely with industrial fire and safety information is not only the best way to ensure that every single person working for you is as safe as possible but also saves huge sums of money that industries and governments lose due to industrial fires, every year.
And the best way to prevent a fire emergency is to understand what causes it in the first place
- Combustible Dust
Combustible dust is minute particulars that cause a huge explosion hazard when they hang in the air, especially under specific conditions.
- Flammable liquids and gasses
Some examples of flammable gasses are acetylene, liquefied petroleum gas, hydrogen, methane, propane, and some flammable liquids are methylated spirits, petrol, kerosene, and acetone.
- Hot work
Hot work is any activity or process that causes a source of ignition, this could be through a flame, heat, or even a spark. Fire emergencies caused as a result of hot work are extremely common and also extremely dangerous and hence need to be controlled in order to prevent industrial fires.
- Electrical hazards
Electricity is a powerful force so it is no surprise that it is one of the most common causes of fire in workplaces. The specific hazards that cause an electric fire are wiring that is exposed, overloaded outlets, extension cords, overloaded circuits, and static discharge. The reason electric hazards can turn out to be the most dangerous of all the above causes of industrial emergencies is that a mere spark by one of the above along with any either combustible dust, flammable liquids, and gasses, or even hot work, can result in a catastrophic fire emergency.
As previously mentioned, industrial fire emergencies not only cause massive destruction of property and financial losses but, the biggest impact of them is on the people. All the employees in the workplace where the above fire hazards are present are all at great risk in case of an industrial fire emergency. But it is not only the employees who have to face losses in case of a fire. An employer is also at significant risk by putting the employees in danger. In the unfortunate circumstance that an employee gets hurt in an industrial fire emergency, the employer is to undergo various costs such as cost of compensation, medical aid, lost time, cost of training a new worker, cost of investigation, supervision, and inspections, cost of wages payable during injury and cost of loss to the worker and his family.
Hence, preventing an industrial fire emergency before it ever occurs should be the main priority of every employer, and here is how to ensure industrial fire safety.
- Installing adequate fire alarms.
The initial few seconds of a fire are the best chance you have of containing it and having functioning smoke and heat detectors are absolutely essential in doing so.
- Conduct regular fire drills
Preventing panic in a fire emergency and having a safety plan can go a long way in minimizing the damages caused in case an industrial fire does take place.
- Maintain fire safety equipment
Fire and safety equipment such as fire extinguishers and automatic sprinkler systems are useful in preventing fires only if they work. So, not only is it important to ensure that the necessary fire and safety equipment are adequately stocked but also that they are maintained in working condition.
- Practice good housekeeping
Acceptable housekeeping in the form of not carrying out inadequate work practices, such as cutting and welding operations without keeping a close watch on an area in which hot work has been conducted, or ensuring that areas that weren’t cleaned up, did not have flammables and combustibles properly stored or had grease or oil-soaked floors are all ways to avoid minor events and major catastrophes.
But the most useful procedure to follow in order to have confidence in your fire safety measures is to schedule and conduct frequent fire safety inspections. Fire safety audits are an essential tool for assessing the overall industrial fire safety standards put in place. It is an examination of the buildings/structures and relevant documents to ascertain how the buildings are being managed regarding fire safety.
The objectives of fire safety inspections can be focused on identifying all significant fire hazards, the people who are at risk from each hazard, evaluating the existing control measures, and determining the additional control measures required.
Industrial operations face a high risk of fire emergencies and hence have to take higher than the average fire safety prevention and protection measures to not only save on the huge potential financial losses they would incur but most importantly keep themselves and everyone who works for them away from harm.