This month, our deadly dozen blog article will discuss how to prevent fire and explosions at your construction site. Fire and explosion hazards are listed third on the deadly dozen’s unsafe conditions list. According to the most recent statistics released by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), fire and explosions account for approximately 3% of workplace fatalities.
OSHA is concerned many employers are not placing enough emphasis on workplace safety and health. Consistently, the agency emphasizes fire and explosions can be prevented by following safety standards and guidelines. Construction workers need to be adequately trained and informed about hazards associated with fire and explosions. Data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal the leading occupations of construction workers killed by fire and explosion include laborers, welders, electrical workers, heavy equipment operators, and carpenters. The Bureau of Labor Statistics breaks down worker activity as it relates to fire and explosion deaths. Repair and maintenance, welding, driving/operating vehicles, constructing/installing, and painting/finishing round out the worker activity associated with most fire and explosion deaths at construction sites. Chemical explosions, fires, pressurized container explosions, and arc flashes/blasts are the major sources of fire and explosion fatalities among construction workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration maintains fire and explosions are generally caused by:
• Flammable and combustible cleaning solvents such as Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK), mineral spirits, and diesel fuel or oil.
• Liquids with high flash points (greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit) may present a fire or explosion hazard when applied as a fire mist.
• Liquids with low flash point (less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit) pose hazards when used.
• Airborne particles or dust.
• Hydrogen gas generated during cleaning processes such as acid washes.
• Reactive cargos such as iron-ore, fertilizers, or incompatible chemicals.
Last month, a forty-nine year old Houston man was killed as a result of a welding accident. According to reports, the construction worker’s cutting torch came in contact with a set of barrels setting off an explosion that shook parts of the building. Workers at SRC Construction claim the barrels were marked as containing a cleanser. Investigators are still working on this case.
OSHA stresses employers must empower workers to become BETTER INFORMED, BETTER PREPARED, BETTER MOTIVATED to handle safety. The agency provides basic fire and explosion safety tips to workers in an effort to accomplish its mission of ensuring a safe and healthy workplace. Other information and fire prevention tips can be accessed from the following link, http://www.nfpa.org/. Through our OSHA-Approved 30 Hour Training Courses, management, supervisors and employees can get detailed training on these hazards as well as other Focus Four hazards.
• Establish effective procedures and use proper equipment to perform the operation safely.
• Obtain a Hot-Work permit, if necessary.
• Cover or block all doorways, cracks, windows with fire resistant material.
• Keep fire extinguishers near.
• Provide adequate ventilation in work area to prevent accumulation of flammable gases, vapors, or dust.
• Properly store all flammable materials in secure areas.
• Access osha.gov for other information,