The manufacturing industry is one of the most dangerous industries in the world. Consequently, it’s full of hazardous materials and volatile conditions. This can lead to deadly fires or explosions. Also, if you’re a manager or owner of a manufacturing facility, it’s critical that you understand how to avoid these potential disasters. By following some simple steps and taking precautions against fire hazards, you can reduce your risk of having a devastating incident occur on your premises.
Generally, the first thing you should do is conduct a fire risk assessment. The reason for this is to identify any fire safety risks and work out methods to reduce the risk of a fire. A qualified individual will conduct a thorough inspection of your facility, looking for potential fire hazards and teaching employees what to do in case of an emergency. They’ll also make recommendations on how to improve safety measures and update any equipment that needs replacing.
Fire Safety In Manufacturing
When it comes to manufacturing, fire safety is a huge concern. Fires can be extremely dangerous and costly to any business. However, manufacturing is filled with combustibles. A blaze is more likely to occur in the manufacturing industry than in other industries due to the use of power tools, machinery, gas, vehicles and more. Fortunately, it’s possible to prevent your business from experiencing a fire with some simple precautions.
Generally, materials are stored at manufacturing facilities for lengthy periods. However, these materials can be highly combustible, posing significant fire risks. In addition, manufacturing facilities often use heat and flame to shape raw materials into finished products. For these reasons, it’s important that you take steps to ensure your business is well-protected against fires.
- Failure to clean equipment properly.
- Electrical malfunctions or misuse.
- Misuse of flammable liquids and gases.
- Heating equipment failure.
- Sparks caused by power tools.
- Oil spillages and toxic fluid spillages.
- Vehicle/forklift malfunctions/misuse.
Statistics Of Fire Safety In Manufacturing
According to the NFPA, there were about 38,000 fires in industrial or manufacturing properties between 2011 and 2015. Within this, vehicle fires accounted for 9% of all manufacturing fires and caused an estimated $125 million in property damage. Total property damage recorded in manufacturing fires was over $265 million.
Step 1: Create A Fire Safety Evacuation Plan
When it comes to protecting your business against fires, the best prevention is a solid plan. The first step in creating a fire protection plan is to perform a fire safety assessment of your facility’s risks and vulnerabilities. This will help you identify any areas where fire safety may be compromised. Once you’ve done this, it’s time to develop a comprehensive plan that minimises these risks and protects against all types of fire hazards. This includes properly storing combustibles, and ensuring the correct signage is above the fire doors.
The next step is to train your staff in fire safety. This will ensure they know what to do in the event of a fire and can put your plan into action. You should also educate them on how important it is to have smoke detectors installed throughout your facility. The final step is to test your plan by holding regular fire drills. This will ensure that your staff are familiar with the plan and know how to put it into action.
Step 2: Manage Combustible Liquids
Production facilities frequently use highly flammable substances, such as natural gas liquids (NGLs) and liquified petroleum gas (LPG), in their operations. If these liquids are spilt for any reason, this could cause major issues on your premises. To reduce their associated risks, the total amount of flammable liquids should not exceed 70 kilograms and be stored away from combustible materials in a well-ventilated area. In addition, the storage area should be well-lit and have suitable fire detection and suppression equipment.
Examples Of Flammable Liquids In Manufacturing
Ethane is mainly used to produce ethylene, which in turn can be converted into plastics. It is a highly flammable liquid that can be dangerous if not stored correctly. Ethane is a colourless and odourless gas that can only be detected by using a gas chromatograph. End-use products include plastic bags, plastics, anti-freeze and detergent.
Propane, also known as LPG or liquified petroleum gas is used in homes, businesses, agricultural and industrial. It is often used to power forklifts in manufacturing. The National Propane Gas Association now reports that 500,000 forklift trucks are powered by propane gas. Propane is a highly flammable gas that is liquefied through pressurisation, and it’s commonly used as fuel in vehicles. End-use products include home heating, stoves and barbeques.
Butane is used to make special chemicals in the solvent, rubber, and plastics industries. It is used in a variety of applications, including as lighter fluid and stove fuel, aerosol propellent, heating agent, refrigerant and the manufacture of a wide range of products. End-use products include synthetic rubber for tyres or lighter fuels.
Fighting Combustible Liquids
In a factory, there are a number of combustible liquids that will be present. Additionally, when tackling flammable liquid or gas fires it is important that you have the right fire extinguisher. We would recommend that all manufacturing facilities have an ABC dry powder fire extinguisher. These fire extinguishers are capable of tackling solid, liquid and gas fires. ABC dry powder can be used on a number of different materials and are suitable for use in most environments. They are ideal for use in factories, warehouses and other commercial premises where there is a risk of flammable liquids or solids being present. The ABC dry powder fire extinguisher is available in a range of sizes, from 1kg to 20kg.
Step 3: Avoid Vehicle Fires In Manufacturing
All vehicles and machinery pose significant hazards, from overheating or refuelling. Regular maintenance of all vehicles and machinery is key to reducing fire safety risks. Electric vehicle fires often result in high temperatures and exothermic reactions. This is the production of heat by a chemical reaction. Exothermic reactions will cause significant challenges when firefighting.
Lithium-ion batteries could be the cause of a vehicle fire. Luckily this is a very uncommon occurrence. However, these batteries are present in electric vehicles such as forklifts and machinery and so we should talk about them. If a lithium-ion battery overheats or hisses, it’s vital that the battery is moved away from flammable materials. Often overcharging or manufacturing defects are the cause of lithium batteries exploding. If your lithium-ion battery can be removed then it is vital that you remove the battery. However, if your battery is in an electric vehicle then you should evacuate the vehicle and do NOT attempt to tackle the fire yourself. Lith-Ex fire extinguishers can be used to tackle electric vehicle fires.
Step 4: Avoid Overloading Storage Rooms
As we have mentioned, manufacturing facilities will hold components for long periods of time. Often, these components are flammable and have the potential to cause a devastating blaze. To comply with health and safety trip hazards, many businesses will store these products in warehouses or storage rooms. If these storage rooms aren’t regularly inspected, maintained and organised, there will be a greater potential for the kind of large-scale factory fire that could threaten production as well as your employees’ lives. Due to the wide variation in stored products, it is crucial that you choose the right fire protection products. For electrical fires, we recommend a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher, however, for combustible liquids, gases and solids it is recommended to use an ABC dry powder fire extinguisher.
Installation of smoke/fire detectors can help contain a fire in its early stages, preventing the spread of flames to other parts. To protect workers, a factory should have clearly defined fire safety and protection procedures.
Step 5: Train Employees In Fire Safety
While it is critical to have a fire protection system in place, preventing fires from occurring in the first place is just as important. We can only prevent fires through training our employees. Training is the key to preventing fires. Employees should be taught how to recognise and prevent potentially dangerous situations, as well as how to use a fire extinguisher if necessary.
Structural fires in industrial or manufacturing facilities are often caused by faulty heating systems, power tools and heavy machinery. If preventive maintenance is performed and inspections are conducted regularly, three out of five fires can be prevented from occurring in factories. Train all employees on fire prevention techniques to ensure that they are aware of the proper maintenance and storage of materials.
In addition to fire prevention training, employees at manufacturing facilities should also be trained in how to respond in case a fire does break out.
There are a number of ways in which you can reduce the risk of fire in your business. Regularly inspecting machinery, vehicles, and electrical equipment is essential as part of your fire prevention strategy. This will ensure that any issues are identified and dealt with before they become a hazard. However, it’s important to remember that you can never be too careful. If there’s any doubt about the safety of a piece of equipment or vehicle, don’t use it until the issue is resolved. In addition to regular inspection and maintenance, fire extinguishers should be kept close by in case of an emergency.
If you have any concerns about fire safety in your business, please contact us today. We will be happy to answer any questions and provide advice on how you can reduce the risk of fires.
What Is Manufacturing?
Manufacturing is the process of turning raw materials into goods. In the manufacturing industry, a product goes through many steps before it’s ready to be sold to customers. Manufacturing is one of the most important industries in the world. Manufacturing companies are responsible for creating everything from food and medicine to clothing and electronics. The industry employs millions of people each year, so it’s essential that manufacturers have a strong safety record in order to continue operating.
Manufacturing is the process of making goods using machines and/or hand labour in order to sell them. Raw materials or component parts are often used in manufacturing. Manufacturing is usually done on a large-scale production line with machinery and skilled labour.
The most common types of manufacturing are fabrication, assembly and processing. Fabrication is the process of creating something new out of existing materials. For example, a car manufacturer might take parts from different suppliers and assemble them into an automobile. Assembly is similar to fabrication in that it’s also a step in the manufacturing process. However, assembly involves putting together one or more parts into a final product.