Strict Rules Needed to Match Dangers of Smoking in Plants

Strict Rules Needed to Match Dangers of Smoking in Plants


Industrial Fire Safety

Smoking and matches account for a substantial portion of our yearly fire losses. In industry, there is a need to remove the dangers of indiscriminate disposal of smoking materials and to establish safe smoking areas. Eliminating all smoking in a plant is an impossible task.

All state departments of labor, as well as many city agencies and fire departments, have smoking regulations. These regulations vary and you should inquire locally about them. Then you can apply the regulations along with other measures which may be required, such as the following examples from OSHA standards:

OSHA 1910.106, Flammable and Combustible Liquids, (iii) states that open flames and smoking shall not be permitted in flammable or combustible liquid storage areas, and 1910.108, Dip Tanks, (4) says that no smoking signs in large letters on contrasting color background shall be conspicuously posted in prohibited areas. Section 1910.178, Powered Industrial Trucks, (G-10) declares that smoking shall be prohibited in the charging area for electric industrial trucks.

The OSHA specifications for accident prevention signs can be found 1910.145, covering danger, caution and/or safety instructions.

Management survey: All areas of premises require a complete survey by management to determine which areas must be designated as no-smoking areas and where smoking rooms zones shall be established.

Smoking is allowable in reception rooms, ordinary offices, connecting hallways and rest rooms, as well as work areas free of combustibles of any kind. Smoking is usual in boiler rooms and generator buildings and similar occupancies, even though oil or gas used as fuel. This is proper, as engineers are in 24-hour attendance in booths or operator rooms kept in spotless condition. Within these allowable areas, and especially at entrances to no-smoking areas, noncombustible floor or wall trays must be provided for the disposal of lit smoking materials. Signs are also necessary at these points to inform everyone—especially visitors—on the no-smoking rule.

In manufacturing areas and outside loading docks, discretion must be used in establishing either fully enclosed, noncombustible smoking booths or clearly marked smoking zones. The amount of combustibles and dusts and the housekeeping problem generated by the manufacturing process dictate which is to be used, if either. The smoking zone must have a solid metal, waist-high barricade, tight to floor on at least three sides, to prevent carelessly disposed butts from leaving the zone due to air currents. Metal buckets, partially filled with water or sand and labeled for butts only, and an approved container for combustible waste (as described in our October article) are needed in both smoking booths and zones. The waste cans, which are for paper and other such Class A waste, must be labeled, “Not for Disposal of Smoking Materials.”

Signs and enforcement: No-smoking zones must be designated by signs both at the entrances to such areas and inside them. Responsible personnel should maintain constant supervision of these danger zones to enforce the no-smoking rule. Experience and the fire loss records show that the areas in which smoking is prohibited should include warehouses, shipping rooms and some manufacturing areas, such as woodworking shops and furniture factories with their problems of dust and large amounts of Class A materials.

OSHA says that smoking zones can be established in storage and warehouse areas, but in our opinion, they should not.

All areas for the storage or use of flammable liquids or gases must be included in no-smoking areas. Often chemical usage or storage in a plant also demands a no-smoking policy.

Evaluate your risks and prevent fires by removing this needless source of ignition known as smoking materials. We know smoking can never be eliminated, but it can be controlled through sensible, enforced rules and regulations.

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