Fire is among the most serious potential hazards associated with spray and finish applications, even those conducted in a fully-maintained and compliant spray booth. There are many different ways to limit this risk, but business leaders also need to prepare for the possibility of human error or technical malfunction.
To minimize human injury and damage to the booth, product, equipment and materials, operators need to identify all potential fire hazards throughout their production process so they can develop a multifaceted prevention and management plan to limit these risks.
Risk Identification, Assessment and Management
Causes of Booth and Workplace Fires
The first step in preventing or controlling fire risk is to understand exactly where it presents itself during daily operations. Faults and improper use of electrical equipment is one of the most common causes of fire in spray environments. Many application mixtures contain volatile compounds that can ignite with only a slight exposure to flame or electrical current. This means operators need to keep their equipment and electrical system in good repair with regular maintenance checks and inspections.
Cigarettes, matches and lighters are another common risk in many workplaces, particularly those that don't designate smoking areas for employees. Companies should provide facilities for smokers, including enclosed ashtrays, that are completely separate from areas with flammable or combustible substances.
Risk Assessment and Management
It's difficult to completely eliminate fire risks in the workplace, which means operators have to carefully assess various hazards to develop appropriate solutions. Booth operators handling volatile chemicals need to establish a detailed fire prevention and management plan.
This plan should include thorough training for all employees, including proper use of fire-prevention equipment and safety procedures, along with crisis management strategies and inspection schedules. Employers should also have updated material safety data sheets for all dangerous substances used in production.
Regulations for Spray Booth Fire Safety
When using a spray booth or establishing a fire safety plan, operators need to keep applicable regulations in mind. There are currently two main sources of regulatory oversight when it comes to spray and finish booths: the NFPA and OSHA.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has a limited, yet noteworthy, regulatory impact on spray booths. The standards described in NFPA 33 are only relevant to operations that use flammable or combustible material. These standards encourage workplace safety by establishing minimum ventilation, spacing and fire suppression requirements.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the primary regulatory body that oversees various aspects of spray booth operations. Since the agency focuses on preserving employee health, fire risk management is one of the many issues addressed in their standards. Among other standards for booth operators, OSHA requires that employees have appropriate personal safety equipment and safety training to help prevent unnecessary injury.
Compliant and Customized Booth Solutions
Booth fire prevention requires a cohesive and communal effort at all levels of an organization. However, the foundation for a fire-safe work environment is reliable, high-quality equipment that meets or exceeds all relevant regulatory requirements. That's why we don't cut corners with our booth designs and other solutions.
After decades spent serving clients from many different industries, we at Spray Systems know that compliance, efficiency and reliability are all vital qualities in booth systems. We are committed to helping our clients find solutions that deliver value and offer flexibility without compromising workplace or employee safety.