What are fire risks in a factory?

The NFPA recorded around 499,000 structure fires in 2018. Compared to the 1,098,000 that were recorded in 1977 when the NFPA first began recording the amount of structure fires, this looks much better from an improvement standpoint. Out of those structural fires there were about 11,000 that were industry related. The property loss and damages were worth about $508 million. Even though it does look better than it has been in the past, any amount of fire that causes damage to facilities and injures or results in death for employees is too many. These are the five largest fire risks in factories and how to diminish them.

Flammable Liquids & Gases

The first out of the fire risks that must be addressed are flammable liquids and gases. When the necessary elements that lead to ignition, and in some cases combustion, are provided, the results are disastrous. These instances are often present in chemical plants. Take a look at the Henderson, Nevada rocket fuel plant that experienced an explosion in 1988 for example. This massive explosion was due to ammonium percolate having been ignited by welders working on storage drums. The explosion made its own earthquake registering a 3.5 on the Richter scale and was even felt 600 miles away.

How do I prevent an accident?

  • Provide proper training for chemical handling
  • Provide appropriate PPE
  • Store the hazardous material appropriately and to code
  • Control all ignition sources

Combustible Dust

The next fire risk that must be addressed is combustible dust, a material that is produced in several different kinds of facilities involving woodworking, metal processing, food processing, chemical plants, etc. Things that you think may not be flammable are when they exist in small particles like flour, soap, carbon dusts, and even powdered coffee creamer.

How do I prevent an accident?

  • Clean regularly to reduce the amount of combustible dust
  • Implement a preventative maintenance program

Electrical Hazards

For the third risk on the list, electrical hazards must be identified in industrial facilities. Fires that have started because of electrical issues are usually caused by the following:

  • Wiring that is not up to code
  • Exposed wires
  • Overloaded outlets or circuits
  • Extension cords
  • Static discharge

How do I prevent an accident?

  • Avoid overloading outlets and circuits
  • Avoid leaving temporary equipment plugged in when it’s not being used
  • Do not have extension cords as a permanent installment
  • Use antistatic equipment where required
  • Keep a tidy workspace free of flammable material

 Hot Work

Hot work is the next fire risk that threatens industrial businesses. This kind of work includes things such as welding, grinding, and anything that involves molten metals reaching temperatures up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit or more. The main concern with hot work is the sparks since they can jump up to 35 feet. Hot work is often the catalyst for combustible dust and flammable gases and liquids.

How do I prevent an accident?

  • Train employees for the job specific hot work
  • Avoid hot work if you can
  • Make sure there are no sources of fuel around
  • Supervise the work that is taking place
  • Use a written permit even if one is not required

Equipment & Machinery

The last large fire risk that everyone must consider involves equipment and machinery. The constant friction between parts that may not be lubricated well enough can cause sparks to fly or extra heat to be produced. This group can also include machines that were not installed properly like furnaces.

How do I prevent an accident?

  • Awareness of the hazards that the machine and equipment possess
  • Clean regularly
  • Keep a maintenance routine

If these things are kept up with and monitored in the facility, then there will most certainly be a decline in accidents that involve fires since the fire risks have been recognized and appropriately dealt with. Check out Creative Safety Supply’s fire safety guide if you want to make your facility even more safe.


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