Best Practices to Proactively Manage Fire Safety Risks in Your Enterprise
A National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) report indicates annual losses of close to $1.2 billion due to fire hazards in the US in industrial or manufacturing properties. On average, industrial and manufacturing properties experience 37,000 fires annually. The leading causes include –
- Electrical distribution and lighting equipment, which accounts for 24% of the total cases
- Heating and related processes that contribute 15%
The U.S. Fire Administration’s Non-Residential Fire Trends for 2009-2018 indicate a 26% increase in non-residential fires.
All of this data points to one clear need: setting up a proactive risk management framework for your enterprise to tackle fire hazards. There is a crying need to build controls to prevent fires and go the extra mile in terms of risk mitigation when it comes to electrical work, hot work, or working with inflammable materials.
Common Fire Safety Risks in Manufacturing Plants
Fire hazards are present in all environments, even in commercial buildings and residences. These can be due to electrical faults or the presence of combustible materials, and of course negligence.
In manufacturing setups, there are additional risks. Some of them include:
Combustible dust: Manufacturing requires the use of many different kinds of materials, some of which may release combustible dust particles that remain suspended in the air. A spark may cause a fire or explosion, endangering employees and equipment at the site. If not contained in time, it may spread, causing heavy damage to life and property.
Some of the common best practices to prevent such fires would include timely and thorough housekeeping, safe collection of combustible dust, providing firefighting equipment, training staff about the risks and prevention, and complying with fire safety regulations.
Hot Work: Activities such as welding, brazing, torch cutting, burning, heating, and soldering are common in manufacturing units. The sparks and molten material from these activities may touch very high temperatures, causing a fire.
Therefore, it is essential to limit hot work to only when unavoidable. Having a hot work permit system will ensure that only trained staff does the work with proper protection and for a limited duration. They must be supervised by an experienced manager.
Flammable Gases and Liquids: Industries such as oil and gas work with highly inflammable gases and liquids and need additional precautions. It is essential that the staff handling these gases and liquids are properly trained and that the gases and liquids are stored properly.
Equipment and Machinery: Faulty or improperly installed or maintained equipment can also cause fire hazards. Proper calibration of equipment, periodic maintenance, training, and awareness of the workforce are very important.
Electrical Hazards: Poor wiring, overloading of outlets and circuits, or static discharge are some of the common causes of electrical fires. At the time of designing, it should be ensured that there is no overloading. Keeping equipment unplugged when not in use and using anti-static equipment are some of the other best practices.
Best Practices for Managing Fire Safety Hazards
Good housekeeping, proper training of the workforce, and providing fire protection equipment are some of the important elements for preventing and managing fire safety. In addition, businesses must also ensure the following for improving the safety of their units:
Proactive and Periodic Risk Assessment: A risk-based approach will enable identifying potential threats and taking preventative action to mitigate and manage fire hazards efficiently.
Documenting all Fire Risks and Risk Mitigation Plans for all Your Locations: Documenting the risks, preparing a fire safety plan, and sharing it with the relevant teams will help mitigate and manage fire hazards better. Installing fire alarms and fire-fighting equipment is also important.
Training for Both Workers and Contractors: Equipping the staff with the right skills to identify potential risks, ensure safe behavior when handling hazardous materials, and act if a fire breaks out are important for their own safety as well as that of the workplace.
It is also important to make sure all contractors who are scheduled for hot work, electrical work, etc. have taken necessary permits, are up to date with the nature of work and the environment and have necessary training and certifications.
Analytics: Gathering information on high-risk zones and high-risk activities will help to take preventive measures in those areas. A centralized risk registry will help identify such potential threats, implement controls, and monitor and track their effectiveness.
ComplianceQuest’s Safety Quest to Control and Prevent Fire Hazards
ComplianceQuest’s Safety Management Solution is comprehensive and effective in helping businesses implement fire safety best practices. Its features are aimed to ensure end-to-end safety management, right from auditing to incident reporting and management, and training. Its key features include:
- Audit: This helps to assess the fire safety risks, prioritize them based on the risk level, and proactively manage fire hazards
- Risk: A centralized risk registry helps with capturing trends and implementing proactive and preventative controls to minimize fire hazards
- Incident: This helps with reporting fire incidents, investigating to identify root causes, and implementing CAPA to correct and prevent future hazards
- Safety Observations: This is crucial for identifying near misses or unsafe situations and proactively addressing them
- Document: Automates document management for better compliance, understanding, and communication
- Training: Plan training programs for employees based on gaps and needs to improve skills for preventing and managing fires
- Permit-to-Work: Ensure only trained employees handle hazardous tasks
- Management Review: Empower leaders with safety data to provide a holistic view of the risk and make informed decisions
The software is mobile-ready and cloud-based, allowing any time and anywhere access with sufficient security. It helps to automate the entire fire safety management by providing alerts and notifications for preventive maintenance of equipment and timely training of employees. It provides visibility and transparency into processes, thereby ensuring employees have access to data that can enable continuous improvement of fire safety management practices.
To know more about CQ’s Health & Safety Management Solution, visit: https://www.compliancequest.com/lp/ehs/