The risk of fires is extremely high at most construction sites. According to a report from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), over 3,800 fires every year occur in structures under construction. These fires cause several fatalities and injuries and over $304 million in damages every year.
This report also states that the leading causes of these fires were malfunctions that caused electrical sparks around discarded products and combustible materials. Of course, construction companies must follow many regulations to reduce these risks. However, one aspect that is often overlooked with fire safety is the industrial hardware equipment used on site.
Improper use of hardware around flammable materials or heat sources causes many fires. Here are some strategies to avoid these dangerous situations with industrial hardware.
THE CASE FOR QUALITY
Shoddy hardware can increase the risk of malfunctions. Companies often make low-quality industrial hardware from cheaper metals cut with zinc or carbon. This decreases the metal’s strength and durability, which can lead to many safety hazards—including increased fire risk.
Using a low-quality cheaper chain or wire rope for securement could mean that it will wear down faster. Any friction from rope or chain movement can cause materials to wear down quickly and increase the chances of a safety hazard.
For instance, say chains secure tanks of gasoline in place. If one link in these chains breaks, it would cause the tanks to tumble and spill. This creates an environment that could easily catch flame with a single spark.
Construction sites should only purchase highly rated equipment from industrial hardware suppliers that are guaranteed to last when used properly. Carefully inspect all securement equipment such as chains and wire ropes, and only use securement equipment for loads within their load limit range. This will help prolong hardware life and reduce breakage or malfunction risks.
Beware of How, When, and Where You Use Equipment
Just a tiny spark from industrial hardware can lead to a huge fire, especially in buildings with carbon monoxide (CO) offset. Generators, saws, compressors, welding equipment, and gas-powered pumps can release CO gas. CO is an extremely flammable gas, so if workers use any equipment incorrectly, it can increase the chance of emission.
Train all employees how to use equipment correctly to avoid CO leaks and fire hazards. Using equipment that creates metal on metal or electrical sparks around CO gas can cause disaster.
There needs to be an emphasis on proper equipment use as well. All workers must know how to use industrial hardware correctly, especially in areas of heightened fire risk.
PARTNER WITH AN EXPERT
The best way to reduce the risk of destructive fires at construction sites is preparation. OSHA requires that all construction sites have a 10B fire extinguisher within 50 feet of flammable gas or liquids. There also must be at least one 2A or higher rated fire extinguisher for every 3,000 square feet of area.
Construction site leaders must stay stocked up on fire safety equipment. It is best to partner with an industrial fire safety supplier to provide the necessary equipment. Fire extinguishers have expiration dates, so you can set up reorders through a supplier to ensure you have replacements on hand.
A lack of fire protection equipment also can lead to further destruction on a construction site. Keep all the industrial hardware and combustible or flammable materials in fireproof storage locations. There should be standpipes for firefighting equipment installed and automatic sprinkler systems. A fire safety supplier for each job site can provide equipment like this.
A single spark on a construction site can cause thousands or even millions of dollars in damage. Structures under renovation or construction create the perfect environment for flames as they are full of flammable materials.
Selecting good quality industrial hardware and using it properly can cut the risk of fire hazards significantly. Therefore, construction workers must have the resources, training, and equipment on hand to reduce the chances of fire.
Randy Gonzales is the president of Elite Sales Inc, a rigging equipment and wire rope distribution company based in Miami, Tampa, Houston, and Dyer. He has over 30 years of experience in the distribution and supply of industrial hardware industry.