Safety Barriers And Risk Prevention In Warehouse

Safety Barriers And Risk Prevention In Warehouse

When we propose the structuring of a warehouse it is very important to take into account the installation of safety barriers as security elements since it is a matter of extreme importance. 

Although each warehouse is different, it must be taken into account that the activities carried out in these types of plants carry a high level of risk that must be avoided at all costs.

Each country, each community, and even each city council may have specific regulations regarding fire or safety barriers and the designer must take them into account and apply them at all times. 

In this way, later problems will be avoided both due to possible situations that may arise, as well as the administrative and legal consequences derived from non-compliance. 

Australia Technical Prevention is the official document in which all the regulations in this regard are defined and the aforementioned elements are contemplated. The risk of fire. There are numerous building and safety barriers standards written by experts that comprehensively address the issues of fires, how they start and spread, or how they are detected and extinguished. 

These are very complex issues that are beyond the scope of this manual.  This is only intended to provide a  guide of tips to follow safety barriers to reduce the risk and limit the consequences of a possible incident.

Extinguishing fire by manual means can be extremely difficult, if not impossible in modern storage facilities of safety barriers where very narrow aisles are used with structures whose height is usually between 10 and 20 m (and it is even more complicated in those structures can exceed 20 m). 

But even in warehouses safety barriers with racks as low as 4 or 5 m, the installation of integrated fire sprinklers (  sprinklers ) is already recommended, instead of relying solely on equipment mounted on the warehouse ceiling, as is usually the case. 

Drawing on the expertise of a fire protection expert should be part of a warehouse design. Fire safety barriers must therefore be a matter of prime importance in a facility project.  Leaving your design for last may result in the warehouse not being a safe place or that the project has to be extensively modified and even cannot be carried out. 

For example, the means used to facilitate the departure of personnel in the event of an event can influence the design of spaces and even the choice of means of maintenance. Under normal circumstances, the description of the center should include devices for detection (flames, color, or smoke) and automatic or semi-automatic devices for extinguishing (by water, by foam, or by gas). 

Smoke must be considered not only as a fire hazard but also as a health hazard to personnel and stored materials. The possible theoretical interference with the handling means can affect the arrangement safety barriers like the racks, their height, their load, and the shape of the machines. 

Minimizing risks by safety barriers should be one of the warehouse designer’s priority concerns to create a safe environment.

Fire Safety Barriers as Prevention Systems in the Facility

The prevention of fire basically consists in reducing situations that may provoke, ie the risks .

What can we do to prevent fires?

The first thing to avoid, as far as possible, is the storage of flammable or combustible products. In the event that it cannot be avoided, these materials must be protected against the risk posed by the proximity of smokers, faulty electrical installations, and possible auxiliary activities – normally associated with maintenance equipment -, such as welding, by example.

It must also be taken into account that the products contained in a warehouse tend to perspire as they are products of low combustibility, wrapped or packed in easily ignited cartons. In fact, it is common to find cardboard packaging that, for cost reasons, has not been treated against fire. In addition, the goods are usually stacked on wooden pallets that are also prone to burning and that are not treated against this circumstance either due to their itinerant nature.

These conditions reflect the degree of commitment that must be assumed to adopt the most appropriate criteria in each business and a detailed examination of these factors can provide certain benefits for reducing risks.

The cartons, for example, maybe labeled, sealed, or wrapped for marketing or distribution purposes, materials that produce a large amount of smoke or toxic gases. In addition, they can constitute, by themselves, a flammable material when burned. This problem can be avoided, in many cases, with the simple use of plastic boxes, even of poorer quality than cardboard ones, but which can fulfill the same service.

Another example of how all the details have to be taken into account: loose metal parts placed in metal containers can be a high-risk product as oil residues may form on the bottom of the container. For this reason, in the design of the operation and the warehouse, a system of inspection and cleaning of these elements must be established before they are included in the system.

On the other hand, the shrink plastic used to wrap pallets makes them more easily flammable, although their main contribution to the risk of fire is due to its spread and not to its initiation. 

For this reason, a load of cans of flammable liquid covered by a shrink plastic is better protected against fire than if they were not wearing that protection. In case of fire, the plastic itself acts as safety barriers against the heating of the merchandise, delaying its ignition point and, therefore, the moment in which it could burn.

Joan Padilla