Fire Safety in Hazardous Environments

If you work in a motor vehicle repair environment then you should be aware of the risks of fire. Fires and explosions can cause serious damage to equipment, vehicles and human life in a garage setting and when you consider the amount petrol, it becomes clear that safe practices are vital. Any process that involves sparks and extreme heat, such as welding, also create a significant hazard. Paint is also a flammable material and when combined with high temperatures, you can see the potential for accidents. For Fire risk assessment Gloucester, visit http://keloscape.co.uk/fire-risk-assessment/

Fires or explosions can occur, in particular during work on fuel tanks and cause serious burns to individuals sometimes resulting in death and also substantial fire damage to contents and structures. Tyre explosions also continue to give cause for concern. These incidents do not necessarily occur in a ‘garage’ but can occur, for example, on farms, quarries or anywhere where vehicles undergo repair or maintenance.

Fire Safety in Hazardous Environments

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Hot work is classed as any work that generates heat, flames or sparks and never should hot work be carried out on any wheel to which a tyre is still fitted. This includes welding, cutting, grinding and sawing and particularly the application of heat to free rusted on bolts. When a wheel rim or other steel part of a vehicle wheel is subjected to heat, there is a risk that any tyre (inflated or deflated) attached to it will explode. This can be caused by ignition of the vapours in the tyre, or from degrading of the rubber or lubricating oils. Explosions can even occur later during re-inflation because of the additional oxygen available and due to the higher pressure, the reduction in temperature at which ignition occurs.

Welding and flame cutting equipment is used in many motor vehicle repair activities, including removing or repairing components and releasing seized parts. Potential hazards can arise from:

  • Using the wrong equipment for the task and misuse of welding gear
  • direct contact with flame or hot objects
  • fires caused by the ignition of flammable material on or near vehicles such as trim, carpets and upholstery and petrol in tanks, fuel lines and nearby containers which are often started by sparks or drips of molten metal
  • gas bottles/cylinders that are in use or stored
  • harmful fumes and gases generated during hot work, including those from surface treatments, such as paint underseal and galvanized coatings.

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To keep safe in an environment where there are so many flammable materials, here are some tips:

  • Use a proprietary fuel retriever/adaptor when draining petrol from tanks
  • Store flammable liquids in a safe place
  • Before carrying out any hot work on drums or other containers that may contain vapours such as petrol, diesel, paints, solvents – carefully consider the risks. Safer options include using cold cutting/repair techniques and replacing rather than repairing. Where this work is needed, lower risks by emptying, inerting or cleaning the tank or drum
  • Don’t smoke, weld or carry out other hot work while handling petrol or flammable paints and thinners and don’t use petrol or thinners to burn rubbish.

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