Industrial fires and explosions can cost companies billions of dollars yearly, not to mention the loss of life that can’t be measured in monetary terms. Industrial sectors such as petrochemical, offshore oil rigs and power plants face particular threats due to their working conditions.
Regardless of the size, scale and type of business operations, fire hazards are a real risk. Though some industries may be more prone to serious fire accidents, devastating fires can occur in any situation.
While fires can be unpredictable, they are also preventable if you have a well-defined fire protection plan. Regardless of your industry or workplace environment, it is critical for business owners, facility managers and employees to have basic knowledge about fire safety preparedness.
Prevention of Industrial Fire Accidents
A robust and well-designed fire prevention strategy is a crucial element in mitigating fire threats. Identifying potential fire hazards and documenting them builds a strong foundation for a fire protection plan. The list of potential fire hazards varies from industry to industry, however there are common considerations that are vital to consider when formulating a plan. These include electrical outlets, storage of combustible materials and such utilities.
Undocumented fire hazards may result in a catastrophic fire accident. Even a small spark can escalate to disastrous effect when the sources are unknown and unplanned for. It’s essential to include all potential fuel sources and electrical outlets that could start a fire in your fire prevention audit.
Here’s a Workplace Checklist for Fire Safety
- Make sure to report any electrical faults immediately to prevent fire accidents. Faulty or poor wiring poses a significant fire hazard, so it is crucial to identify and fix these faults immediately.
- Ensure that the outlets and circuits are not overloaded.
- Never use damaged or frayed electrical cords, as exposure to these poses a threat of electrocution and fire accidents.
- Correct storage of flammable materials and other combustible chemicals prevents fires. Store the combustible materials away from any electrical equipment.
- Ensure laboratories and other designated areas containing hazardous or flammable materials are identified and have clear safety procedures.
Keep Emergency Exits Clear and Easily Identified
Emergency exits should be kept clear at all times to ensure safe passage for personnel working on the premises. It’s also important to ensure that proper and well-drafted exit diagrams are posted at strategic locations and that emergency exit signs are lit well. In addition, it is essential to maintain clear visibility of the exit passages.
Install Fire Detection And Suppression System & Fire Extinguishers
One of the best defences against fire is installing fire safety protection. Moreover, ensure your premises have a regular testing, audit and maintenance schedule for fire detection and protection equipment.
Similarly, portable fire extinguishers are also an essential item for fire fighting. You will also need durable extinguisher cabinets and stands to keep them secure and easily accessible.
To successfully use the fire extinguishers, you should:
- Conduct monthly inspections to ensure they are always ready for use
- Ensure they are correctly stored in a cabinet and not blocked or obscured from visibility
- Provide employees with training to properly use the extinguishers.
The Importance of First Aid Kits At the Workplace
A first aid kit is vital for any workplace that can be used in almost any emergency.
In case of a fire emergency, a first aid kit can mean the difference between a minor injury and a serious one, and help to buy critical time whilst awaiting medical assistance. From timely application of topical antibiotics to prevent infection and burn treatment to stabilisation of broken bones, being able to treat wounds immediately can be a literal life saver in an emergency.
A good first aid kit will contain items relevant to the specific requirements of your industrial operation. The first aid kit should be stored in a secure and easy-to-access location. Given the extreme importance of a first aid kit in an emergency situation, ensuring it is safely stored and well protected in heavy duty protective materials is critical.