Fire extinguisher is the first defense against fire. It holds a very important role in fire accident prevention. Every fire accident is initiated by small fire at the beginning.

Due to its importance, so it is crucial for everyone in the plant site to know about nine facts about fire extinguisher. By knowing those facts, it is hoped that people could improve their ways on how to manage the whole aspects of fire extinguishers.

All fire extinguishers are not same. Each type of fire can only be extinguished by certain type of fire extinguishers. Never think that all fire extinguisher equals.

Fire extinguisher is used for putting out or controlling small fire.

Fires are classified into the following classifications:

  1. Class A: burning lumber, paper, plastic, carbon, etc.
  2. Class B: includes fire from flammable or combustible liquids like kerosene, fuel oil, gasoline, organic solvents.
  3. Class C: involves fire that comes from energized electrical equipments such as electric heater, power tools, etc.
  4. Class D: involves combustible metals, like titanium, magnesium, potassium and sodium.
  5. Class K: involves kitchen fires

Typical fire extinguishers and their uses are:

  1. water extinguisher: for class A fire
  2. dry chemical extinguisher: for class ABC and class BC fires.
  3. Carbon dioxide extinguisher: for class B and C fires.
  4. metal/sand extinguisher: for class D fire
  5. water mist extinguisher: for class A fire with potential class C hazard
  6. Fire extinguisher should be located at the proper place in order to make it easy to reach and use.
  7. Marking for fire extinguisher location is very important to make it easy to recognize.

A monthly inspection is required to ensure its condition. More often inspection is required for severe environments. Inspection should include checking of inside pressure, nozzle, pin, tamper seal, dent, rust, leak, chemical deposits and weight.

  • Refill it immediately after use for full protection.
  • Replace immediately damage fire extinguishers.
  • A complete map of fire extinguisher, which informs fire extinguishers location in the plant site and office should be available and can be easily accessed by all person in your company.
  • Even though a clear instruction is already available on every fire extinguisher, but actual training will never be replaced. Training on how to use fire extinguisher is really important. And this program should be regularly scheduled for every person in the company.
  • We have only several seconds to stop fire from growing and cause big fire accident. This accident prevention could only be implemented by having reliable fire extinguisher and well-trained people who will operate the fire extinguisher. What we have to do is mastering all the above facts about fire extinguishers.

Eye washer is one of the most important safety equipments in the workplace. In the area where chemicals are used, stored, loaded/unloaded and transported, eye washers are required since splash hazard potentially could happen. They can prevent eyes from getting injured due to chemical splash.

According to CDC (Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention) in year 2000 there were 300,000 work-related eye injuries in the United States. 70% of all eye injuries cases were mainly caused by contact with materials or objects. Chemicals or chemical products exposures were responsible for 14% from those cases.

Even though every worker who works with various kinds of chemicals has used eye goggles and or face shield, but there is still possible for the worker to get eye injury due to chemical exposures. And eye washer, in this case, helps the eyes from getting damaged, i.e. by diluting chemical that comes into it with plenty of water, before getting further medical treatment in hospital.

Things to Consider When Installing Eye Washers

There are several factors that you need to take into your consideration when you plan to install eye washers for the workplace. In general, the bigger the work area the more eye washers will be required. And the more complicated the work area the more eye washers need to be installed.

Read the following tips for better installation, operation and maintenance of eye washer in the workplace:

  1. Always refer to ANSI Z358-2009 as the main reference for eye washer general minimum performance and use requirements.
  2. Eye washers should be accessible within 10 seconds from a hazardous area, where corrosive chemicals present. However, please consider to make their location closer because injured person needs more time to get to the location of eye washer.
  3. The unit shall be able to be activated in one second or less and can continue supply flushing fluid to both eyes for at least 15 minutes.
  4. Dust cover has to be installed to prevent contamination.
  5. The location where eye washer is installed should be free form obstructions and at the same level with the hazardous area. Door is considered to be an obstruction.
  6. Each level of hazardous area requires one eye washer station.
  7. Make the eye washer easy to recognize. Install a safety sign to make it easy to be identified and visible. A map of eye washer station could be very helpful.
  8. ANSI requires that water supply for eye washer should be at 30-90 PSI.
  9. Shut off valve used for maintenance purpose should be prevented from being closed. Valve key or lock-out tag-out can be used for this purpose.
  10. Temperature of tepid water used for eye washer should be kept at 60-100oF or 16-38oC.
  11. Training is necessary to be provided for workers who are exposed to hazardous chemicals.
  12. A weekly maintenance and testing is compulsory as per ANSI requirement.
  13. Waste water from eye washer station should be treated properly according to applicable waste water regulation in your area.

In addition, some people may use eye washer station for other purposes suppose for washing hands. This seems to be no problem at all. But, please educate your workers not use eye washer for any other purpose except only for eye flushing. Can you image what will happen when one worker with eye injury needs eye washer while at the same time the eye washer is being used for other purposes?

Evaluation is also necessary to determine whether the existing eye washer stations are enough to cover all hazardous areas with chemical splash hazards.

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