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FEATURE FIRE SAFETY


FIRE PROTECTION IN HIGH RISK MANUFACTURING


T


he risk of fire in a manufacturing facility should not be underestimated. It can cause substantial


injuries to teams, significant damage to property – which can be incredibly costly to repair – and can cause considerable loss of inventory. The risks are evidenced in the nearly 2,000 fires


occurring in industrial manufacturing premises in 2019 alone. Additionally, recently reported fires, such as the fire at an industrial estate in Salford in April 2020, and the fire at a fibreglass manufacturing facility in Sunderland in July 2020, further highlight the prominent risks.


KEEPING TEAMS SAFE AND ENSURING COMPLIANCE Manufacturing facilities, as non-domestic premises, are required to meet the legal obligations for fire safety, as stipulated in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. These regulations act as a minimum standard for ensuring compliance and keeping teams, assets and property safe from the risk of fire. The fundamental requirements for ensuring compliance in line with The Fire Safety Order include:


Establishing responsibility for fire safety, by appointing a ‘responsible person’, who is required to conduct fire risk assessments and oversee all fire safety measures within a building.


Conducting and recording regular fire risk assessments, to identify hazards, generate recommendations for reducing risk and be used as the basis to create an emergency plan.


Informing employees – and any temporary or contract workers – of the risks identified, the measures carried out to reduce these risks and details of how these measures safeguard from fire.


Training employees surrounding fire safety precautions in the workplace.


Maintaining fire protection equipment and emergency exits regularly.


In this article, James


Mountain, Fire Shield Systems, discusses how to mitigate the fire risks and ensure


compliance at high-risk manufacturing facilities


20 WINTER 2020 | INDUSTRIAL COMPLIANCE


COMMON RISKS AT MANUFACTURING FACILITIES Manufacturing facilities are susceptible to many different fire risks. As such, keeping teams and property safe, whilst meeting regulatory requirements, can be challenging. So, how can these risks be reduced to ensure compliance?


1.Storage Materials are often stored for significant periods of time at manufacturing facilities, such as raw materials, finished products and packaging. Highly combustible materials, such as raw


materials or packaging, should be stored away from any ignition sources, to reduce the risk of setting


alight. Additionally, waste materials should be disposed of immediately to avoid potential contact with ignition sources. Yards or outdoor storage facilities should be kept


tidy and have fire detection equipment installed, to ensure teams are notified promptly of the outbreak of fire. Additionally, material piles should be stored a minimum of two metres away from buildings and other material piles.


2.Highly flammable substances Highly flammable substances, such as Natural Gas Liquids (NGLs) and Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPGs) are often used at manufacturing facilities. To reduce their associated risks, the amount of fuel stored on site should be kept to a minimum. This stock amount should not be greater than 70kg, and should be stored away from combustible materials in a well-ventilated area.


3.Vehicles and machinery Vehicles and machinery can create a number of hazards, including overheating and risks associated with refuelling or charging, both of which have the potential to act as the catalyst for fire. As such, the maintenance and cleaning of all vehicles and machinery is vital for reducing the risk of fire. Maintenance of machinery should include regular portable appliance testing (PAT) for any portable equipment on site. Electrical vehicles (EVs), hybrid electrical


vehicles (HEVs) and fork lifts all bring about additional fire safety risks. Charging points for fork lifts can cause sparks, potentially leading to fire. To mitigate risk, charging points should be positioned in a well-ventilated area, away from ignition sources, or against a fire-resistant wall to reduce fire spread. EVs and HEVs are often powered using lithium-ion batteries, which pose significant risks. As such, installing the appropriate fire protection equipment is vital for reducing the risk of fire for vehicles of this kind.


4.The spread of fire and smoke The spread of fire and smoke can cause significant damage. As such, to reduce the spread, buildings or separate areas, and their roofs, should have a space between them. If this is not possible, divide areas using fire doors, fire-resistant walls and floors and non-combustible board.


5.Arson Arson is a frequent cause of fire, with around 70,000 deliberate fires occurring in 2019 in the UK. As such, ensuring a facility is secured from the outside, storing flammable materials inside the building and restricting and monitoring their access is crucial for protecting against the risk of arson.


Fire Shield Systems www.fireshieldsystemsltd.co.uk


/ INDUSTRIALCOMPLIANCE


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