Flammable Substances: 5 Top Tips to Keep Staff Safe

Fires can take hold quickly, and can cause serious burns or fatalities when people are engulfed by them. Make sure you have identified all of your process fire risks, and take steps to eliminate them where possible.

  1. Carry out a risk assessment to identify where your fire hazards exist in relation to the use or storage of flammable substances such as petrol, solvents or chemicals – use the safety data sheet from the supplier/manufacturer to help you with this. Consider how your processes could go wrong, for example, if substances are spilt or knocked over. To avoid this, keep containers sealed when not in use, and design the process so that flammables do not need to be carried long distances. Only store the amounts that you need.
  2. Train workers to work safely near fire, and to follow your safe systems of work. Make sure employees know how to use your fire extinguishers, and where the escape routes are should a fire break out.
  3. Keep activities involving fire, such as a naked flame, away from other work involving flammable materials by locating them in a different room. Maintain good housekeeping to avoid a build-up of flammable substances, particularly on the floor where they may go undetected.
  4. Consider the risks when working with oxygen. Clothing that is contaminated with oxygen – even that which is fire-retardant – can catch fire easily.
  5. If you have welding drums or tanks that formerly contained flammable substances, make sure your employees know that small amounts of the substance could still be in the bottom of the container or within cracks or crevices. Do not use an oxy/fuel gas blowpipe on a container that has contained something flammable, unless you know it is safe to proceed.

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