Importance of fire protection at workplace
Fire protection at workplace is the most important safety task to execute in the workplace, no matter the industry. Workplaces are more vulnerable to fire.
Three things cause a fire. It includes Fuel, Oxygen, and an ignition source. While all these things are available in abundance at the workplace.
Therefore, to prevent a workplace from fire always deal with these three materials with care. In this article, we will discuss different safety tips to protect the workplace from fire.
Fire Hazards in the Workplace
In most industries and workplaces there are main types of fire hazards that should be controlled. Electrical fire, flammable and combustible materials. These material are almost in al workplaces environment.
Electrical fire hazard
- damaged extension cables and cords cause electrical short circuit.
- overloaded outlets and circuits cause overheating and fire.
- electrical panels and heaters.
- arc flash hazard.
To prevent electrical fire, A good maintenance program for all electrical cords, cables, panels and electrical devices, This maintenance should be conducted in regular basis to avoid electrical hazards and of course electrical fire.
Flammable and combustible materials
Bad storage of Flammable and combustible materials is one of the most common fire sources at workplace. Both flammable and combustible materials burn, but at different flashpoints.
So the important question is, What is the difference between flammable and combustible? The simple answer is that being flammable or combustible is determined by the flashpoint of the material. Flammable materials can catch fire in normal work temperature, while combustible can burn in temperatures usually above working temperatures.
Flammable and combustible materials examples
- gas cylinders
- paper, plastic bags and wood
- combustible dust from:
- food industries
- metals industries
- wood industries
The storage and handling of these dangerous material should be according to the NFPA recommendations.
Materials classifications and Ignition Sources
OSHA 1910.39 requires that any facility’s fire protection plan identifies potential ignition sources, combustible and flammable materials within the workplace.
Materials fire classifications:
- Class A material: Ordinary combustibles material, These materials are not flammable it self, But it will catch fire and then continue to burn once exposed to a heat or fire source.
- Class B: Flammable liquids, This material will burn when exposed to ignition sources. Such as grease liquid, and gas materials.
- Class C: Live electrical equipment that cause fires quickly, and considered a potential arc flash hazard.
- Class D, Combustible metals, any volatile metals and able to quickly ignite, such as potassium, magnesium and sodium.
Ignition sources examples
Examples of ignition sources at workplace include and not limited to the flowing list:
- Open flame are Any device that temporarily emits a flame that is directly exposed to outside elements, such as:
- gas ovens
- welding torches
- lighters in smoking areas
- Sparks from metal saws, grinder, electrical driller and other types of mechanical or electrical equipment.
- Heat sources:
- combustion engines
- space heaters
- large sized electrical motors
- air compressors
- Chemical ignition, Some chemicals can combust under normal working temperatures. Refer to the chemical safety data sheet, SDSs, which is provided by the manufacturer, provider, distributor or importer of the chemical. This data sheet will provide you with safety handling and storage of the material, and if other fire protection precautions are needed when storing this material.
How to ensure fire protection at workplace?
Below is the list of different techniques, using which we can avoid fire at the workplace.
A solid fire prevention plan limits the risks of fire. A fire prevention plan must be in a documented form. Where all hazardous are documented carefully.
Document all material in the plan that causes fire or help in fire. For example, ignition sources, Electrical outlets, and heat sources. While it is important that an expert and certified safety engineer document the plan. And check regularly after a specific interval of time.
Keep your workplace clean
Another important technique is a clean work environment. As the untidy workplace is more prone to fire and other accidents. Similarly, a place with more things in a roundabout can catch fire easily. Therefore, keep things in a clean environment and remove any waste from the workplace.
Fire protection and safety equipment
The fire department is operating everywhere in the world. However, it may take some time to reach at the incident location. Therefore, it is necessary that fire protection and safety equipment are available at the workplace. So that it can control the fire from spreading.
Different fire safety equipment is available in markets like fire extinguishers, fire alarms, smoke detectors, etc. Please note that use an extinguisher according to the fire class and have a regular check of materials inside.
Employees Training & Awareness
Employee training plays a vital role in fire protection. Train every employee of an organization, how to deal with fire. Make safety exercises after some time, so that the worker is ready for any unforeseen situation.
In case if employees are not mentally ready for this exercise. It may create a chronic situation. Similarly safe and emergency evacuation must be ensured.
Appoint Fire wardens
Another important step for Fire protection at workplace is to appoint fire wardens. The job of the fire watcher or warden is to look after the working environment for any fire hazard during the tasks and after the work finish.