Fire in Pune factory raises the burning question: are you prepared

Two persons perished in a fire that broke out in a factory in Maharashtra's Pune at 3 am on Wednesday.

The printing press situated in Shivajinagar area of Pune, printed boxes for sweets.

16 Mar 2018 | By Sujith Ail

In January 2018, seventeen people, including 10 women, died after a fire broke out in a two-storey firecracker warehouse in north Delhi’s Bawana Industrial Area. The Bawana Industrial Area is under the DSIDC and the area is designated for plastic.

In November 2017, a part of Adhyaru Industrial Estate in Lower Parel, Mumbai caught fire.

Then there is the fire at Nova’s 2.5-acre facility in Faridabad. According to eyewitnesses, the fire was so severe (due to the availability of combustible material within the facility) and it spread so quickly that by the time firefighters reached the site, the blaze had engulfed the 2.5-acre facility completely. By the end of it, even the concrete building had turned to rubble.

Walk into any printing plant and one thing is clear. The problem for print is that the very nature of the products involved raises the risk of an incident involving fire.

As a student, we were taught that responsible person must carry out a fire risk assessment. This is a simple process which means an organised and methodical look at the premises, the activities carried on there, and how a fire may start.

There has to be a system that identifies fire hazards; reduce the risk of those hazards causing harm to as low as reasonably practicable, and decide what physical fire precautions and management arrangements are necessary to ensure the safety of people within the premises if a fire does start.

We have compiled a few safety and compliance points with inputs from TechNova's Pradip Ghaisas who said that a major threat to the print industry is fire and accident. Ghasias added, 96% of incidences are preventable.

Ghaisas said, “We need to be aware of the working conditions of the neighbouring factories, a mishap in their vicinity may lead to tremendous loss at our place even if it is completely fire-compliant.”

Consider and treat safety beyond statutory requirement - Owners tend to be myopic about fires. But a wide range of incidents that may occur within the site at any time, such as environmental incidents (explosion, spillage, and fire), security issues (extortion, bomb threat, arson, mail contamination, workplace violence, and sabotage), natural disasters (flood and extreme weather), manmade disasters (biological, chemical, radiation, and avian flu), deaths and/or serious injuries, as well as major disruptions of operations (demonstration, strike, and terrorist activities). It’s a long list but incidents involving these situations do occur.

Orderliness and cleanliness of work stations is prerequisite for safety - Untidiness - clutter and debris on the floor or grime around equipment and exhaust fans that are not routinely cleaned - can contribute to a fire. Dry products in continuous motion can generate static electricity that can ignite paper or dust. Dust can also be explosive. Risk management measures include. This means: Storing all roll and sheet paper on wood pallets or platforms off the floor. Also, storing large rolls of paper, plastic or fabric horizontally in well-spaced, low height piles to reduce fire spread. Removing materials, such as unused boxes and remnant paper, throughout the day. Storing soiled rags in appropriate, fire-resistant containers. Using automatic removal systems on machines producing large quantities of waste. Cleaning all process areas once per shift

Focus more on the preventive measure - Fire and explosion hazards in the printing industry clearly exist so it is important to install and maintain the correct fire protection systems. Options include automatic fire suppression/sprinkler systems, heat and/or smoke detectors with alarm functions and internal fire teams. Only certified professionals should be considered with these decisions. A responsible person should supervise all matters relating to a fire alarm system. That person should ensure the system is tested and maintained in accordance with applicable standards and that records are kept.

Participation of workmen and management staff is equally important to improve safety standard of an organisation - In terms of employees, they should be given ongoing information, instruction and training, during their normal working hours, about fire precautions in the workplace. And premises and anything connected with firefighting, fire detection and warning or emergency routes and exits must be regularly maintained by a competent person to ensure they are in good working order.

Prepare and equipped the team to face emergencies at workstations/plant - The first step is to appoint one or more ‘competent persons’ to assist in undertaking any of the preventative and protective measures. A competent person is someone with enough training and experience or knowledge or other qualities to be able to properly implement the safety measures.

Safety awareness among operating team is a key factor - Non-employees, such as agency workers or contractors, need to be told of the relevant risks to them. They too should be told about the fire safety procedures for the premises. The same information ought to be given to any agency employing those individuals.

Actions that need to be taken

Need of safety to safeguard – Employees, Assets, Environment, Reputation and Business

Safety should follow a top-down process.

Every owner is responsible for safety of the organisation.

A safety system is a business-like approach to safety.

A safety management system should have goal setting, planning, and measuring performance etc.

Safety is a business differentiator.

Regular safety inspection and training will make the workplace safer.

Formation of safety committee on an all India basis to effectively lead a ‘Safety Drive’

Our mission is to make the Print Community safe - and make safety a value within Print

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