Preventing Industrial Fires and Explosions

February 22, 2017 Dave Anderson

Hot work area
A recent article in OH&S magazine addresses the five major causes of industrial fires and explosions - and how to prevent them. The National Fire Protection Association reports that an average of 37,000 fires occur at industrial and manufacturing properties every year. These incidents result in 18 civilian deaths, 279 civilian injuries and $1 billion in direct property damage. Here's a brief recap of key points from the article about preventing fires in the workplace.

5 Common Causes

The article describes the most common causes of such fires and explosions:
1. Combustible Dust - A major cause of fire in food manufacturing, woodworking, chemical manufacturing, metalworking, pharmaceutical and other industries.
2. Hot Work - Includes brazing, burning, heating and soldering, as well as welding and torch cutting.
3. Flammable Liquids and Gasses - Frequent at chemical plants, but many workplaces commonly use these materials.
4. Faulty Equipment and Machinery - Beyond furnaces, any mechanical equipment can become a fire hazard due to friction between moving parts.
5. Electrical Hazards - Including overloaded circuits and extension cords, exposed wiring and static discharge.

Preventing Fires and Explosions

Each of these causes require some unique fire prevention practices, in addition to adequate maintenance and training. Here's some general advice for avoiding fires and explosions:
  • Conduct a hazard analysis
  • Establish fire prevention and emergency procedures
  • Provide fire safety training
  • Conduct regular housekeeping
  • Inspect and maintain equipment
While it may not be possible to eliminate all fire and explosion hazards, following a fire prevention program can help keep your workers and workplace safe.

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