Fires in the workplace have the potential to injure employees, damage worksites, and completely disrupt operations. Despite this, many employers fail to take the threat of workplace fires seriously.
Worksites with large scale mechanical and electrical processes such as factories are among the most fire-prone worksites. Fires that occur at factories can be deadly and may cost businesses large sums of money. Here are five scary statistics that illustrate the impact of factory fires.
1 – Over 101,867 fires occurred between 2013 and 2014
Australian fire agencies responded to 101,867 fire-related incidents between 2013 and 2014. A number of these fires occurred at industrial or manufacturing properties This statistic should serve as a wake-up call to companies who do not perform proper fire hazard assessments. Many factory fires can be prevented by performing fire assessments in which potential fire hazards are identified and dealt with.
A large percentage of employers also make their employees undergo fire safety training in which they learn the best ways to stop fires from occurring. Employees who know how to spot potential fire hazards can play a role in keeping an eye out for new hazards in between fire assessments.
2 – 3,311 fire-related injuries occurred between 2010 and 2015
3311 injuries related to accidental fires were reported in New South Wales between 2010 and Many of these injuries likely occurred at industrial and manufacturing facilities. Fire-related injuries can halt factory operations and have the potential to be financially devastating for factory owners, especially if there are any fatalities.
Employees injured in factory fires could sue the factory owners for damages, and this can prove to be very costly for businesses. Factory owners should make sure their fire protection systems are in tip-top condition so that they can detect and alert employees to any fires on the premises. Many businesses use the services of fire protection companies to install, inspect, and maintain fire protection systems such as smoke detectors, fire alarms, fire extinguishers and sprinklers.
3 – Fires caused over $702.9 million in property damage between 2013 and 2014
The Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authorities Council reported that fires in residential and commercial areas caused over $702.9 million in property damage across the country between 2013 and 2014. Property damage from factory fires can be more frequent and costly than expected.
Rebuilding and repairing a factory following a fire can be expensive, especially considering all the resources that will have to be diverted to get the factory back up and running. A proactive approach can prevent fires from breaking out in the first place.
A fire service contractor can inspect your factory facility and install the right fire detection and alert systems that fit your needs. Fires that are detected early are easier to deal with and are more likely to be contained. Therefore, the alert systems your fire service contractor installs in your factory could save you from dealing with significant property damage from fires in the future.
4 – Over 5000 structure fires occur in New South Wales annually
A report by the Fire and Rescue NSW showed that over 5000 structure fires occurred annually between 2013 and 2018 in New South Wales. These structure fires make up the bulk of commercial fires. This implies that workers are far more likely to be harmed by structure fires than any other type of non-bush fire.
When a factory structure catches fire, employees inside the factory may be injured by burning debris or collapsing structures. These employees may have difficulty evacuating the factory if they’re not familiar with the proper evacuation protocols.
It’s important for factory owners to run regular fire drills to familiarise employees with the proper evacuation procedures, and the locations of employee assembly points following the evacuation.
A good fire protection company can identify the most suitable evacuation and fire exit routes in your factory to ensure that workers always know the best way out in any fire situation. Being quick and organised is crucial in life-and-death fire situations.
5 – Electrical equipment and lighting are the leading cause of structure fires
It’s difficult to learn what the main causes of structural fires are in Australia due to incomplete data. However, a report from the US details that electrical equipment and lighting were the leading cause of structure fires at factories in the US between 2011 and 2015. It can be assumed that the case is similar for Australian factories.
This means factory owners need be careful to stamp out issues with faulty electrical equipment and lighting as soon as possible to avoid the risk of a fire breaking out. Electrical fires can be started from old wiring, frayed electrical cords, or faulty breaker boxes In many cases, factory workers won’t check up on or repair a piece of electrical equipment until it malfunctions or stops working. As a result, their approach does not include preventative measures which could stop the equipment from malfunctioning in the first place or becoming a fire hazard.
It’s important for factory owners to focus on preventing electrical equipment fires from occurring in the first place. They may need to start performing regular inspections of their equipment to reduce the risk of these fires occurring.
Electrical equipment fires may also need to be put out in a different manner than non-electrical fires. Employees who are inexperienced with dealing with such fires could be gravely injured in their attempts to put them out, so it’s important to take a preventative approach to stop these fires from occurring.
The best way to fight factory fires is with education and collaboration. Stopping these fires is a group effort, so be sure to keep your employees up to date with your fire safety measures and responses.
For more information, go to www.totalfire.com.au
Ken Thomas is a director at Total Fire Solutions, one of the largest privately-owned mining fire protection specialists in the Pacific Rim and one of the top 3 independent distributors for the Asia Pacific region.
His vision is to create a ‘one stop shop’ fire protection company committed
to NSW mining and heavy industry. He is passionate, innovative and excited by the latest developments in fire protection technology.