One of the most dangerous accidents that can occur in any industrial facility is an electrical fire. Explosions and industrial fires cost the companies millions of dollars and put the employees’ lives at risk. Let us look at 5 safety tips that will help in preventing electrical fires that may be caused due to a faulty electrical system or similar reasons.
1. Assess your Preparedness
Don’t just presume that you are ready for incidents like fire accidents. In fact, conduct thorough inspections and safety audits to unearth vulnerabilities that your facility may be exposed to.
Place special attention on areas and workers that are at a higher risk of explosions, fires and the like. For instance, employees performing hot work like welding are at a higher risk since they may be exposed to flammable materials. Identify the fire protection equipment that has crossed its lifespan or is malfunctioning and replace them with new equipment or machinery that is still in a good, working condition.
2. Prevent Combustible Dust and Hot Work Accidents
Combustible dust is one of the major reasons of fire in several industries. Materials like metals, chemicals, dyes, etc., have the potential to be combustible in dust form — even if they are not present in large amounts.
Once the combustible dust comes in contact with an ignition source, a primary explosion will occur, causing the dust to become airborne. This dust cloud itself can ignite, causing a secondary explosion that may be extremely severe — some of which can have the potential to bring down entire facilities.
This can be avoided by training your personnel and ensuring that the workspace is clear of flammable or combustible materials. Have supervisors on the floor to make sure everything is working in order. Use a written permit system for all hot work projects, even where permits aren’t required.
Use electrical circuit breakers wherever necessary as they help in protecting wiring, appliances and properties against fire hazards by tripping and opening the circuit automatically when the heat or electricity flowing through the circuit exceeds a pre-set limit.
3. Prevent Flammable Liquid and Gas Incidents
You can mitigate fire risks presented by flammable liquids and gases by taking the following measures:
Understand the safety information for materials in your facility as it will give you a good idea on how to handle them to prevent potential accidents.
Store all the hazardous and flammable materials according to OSHA-compliant procedures.
Ensure all the ignition sources are carefully controlled. When you are heating the flammable materials intentionally, make sure the ignition sources are kept as far as possible.
Protective equipment must be a part of every employee’s gear to prevent fire hazards, especially when flammable liquids and gases are used.
4. Prevent Electrical Fire Hazards
Strategies to prevent electrical hazards can be divided into three primary categories:
Be aware of different electrical risks in order to prevent them. Conduct regular safety awareness programs for your employees so that they understand what risks they must watch out for and what actions must be taken when the risk is identified.
– Cleaning and Housekeeping
It is imperative that you keep the machinery, electrical materials and the area around it clean. Grease or dirt of any kind poses a huge risk as it can act as fuel in case of fire.
Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance procedures for all of the equipment and machinery in your plant. Regular maintenance won’t just reduce the risk of fire by preventing overheating of equipment but it also keeps the equipment working in their best condition.
Make sure you use safety switches in order to prevent electrical hazards. They monitor the electrical flow of the current and, in case of irregularities, the switch will automatically trip and stop the power supply to the electrical device.
5. Make Fire Safety a Part of your Operations
– Conduct a hazard analysis
Conduct a hazard analysis of the entire facility to understand and identify the areas where the greatest risk lie. This will help you better understand how to address them and tackle the issue in the early stages. Reanalyze the operations regularly and cross-check the requirements of NFPA 652, which includes Dust Hazard Analysis (DHA).
– Establish emergency procedures
Have the necessary procedures and policies in place. They must cover things like smoking, emergency evacuation plan, allocating emergency exits, personnel protective equipment, etc. Make sure that everyone has easy access to these documents at all times. Send regular online memos or post them in strategic places in your facility.
– Provide fire safety training
It is absolutely critical to provide general and job-specific fire safety training to all your employees, especially those working in a potentially hazardous environment.
– Implement a regular housekeeping routine
If your equipment is running for long hours every day, it would be hard to avoid static discharge and sparks entirely. When you implement a strict housekeeping routine, you can minimize the chances of a small spark turning into a huge disaster. You won’t run the risk of a massive fire, specially the one that may be caused due to combustible dust.
– Regular maintenance of equipment
Inspecting and maintaining your equipment regularly will make your operations more efficient and enhance safety. Make sure you test all the fire safety systems regularly, which includes sprinklers and fire extinguishers. Ideally, you must perform inspections every six months.
Follow these workplace safety tips to ensure health and safety of your staff and equipment at all times and to minimize occupational injuries.
Jeson Pitt works with the marketing department of D&F Liquidators and regularly writes to share his knowledge while enlightening people about electrical products and solving their electrical dilemmas. He’s got the industry insights that you can count on along with years of experience in the field. Jeson lives in Hayward, CA and loves to explore different cuisines that the food trucks in the Bay area have to offer.