You may feel safe at work, but the reality is that many people unexpectedly work around combustible materials every day. They do not always realize the dangers that they face. The truth is that workplace explosions can and do happen, and you need to be prepared.
Some of the common reasons for these explosions include:
- Working with open flames or heat sources, often known as "hot work."
- Working around combustible dust, such as wood shavings.
- Working around flammable gasses and liquids, such as liquid fuel or propane.
- Working near unsafe wiring and other electrical hazards.
- Working with faulty machinery and heavy equipment.
Many of these real dangers often go overlooked by workers on the ground. They become desensitized. For instance, woodworkers spend their entire careers working around dust and wood shavings. Technically, even if they know it's dangerous, it is very easy to assume the danger is not significant after a few years without an accident. Of course, it only takes one incident to expose that risk again, but by then it is too late.
What can your employer do?
You can't avoid all of these risks. Workers who have to transport chemical barrels, for instance, may simply have to work around combustible chemicals that are contained and under pressure. There's a massive possibility of a workplace explosion, but they appear to have no options other than switching careers.
As such, it is important for employers to know what they can do to reduce the risks and keep people safe. A few important steps they can take include:
- Scheduling regular safety checks to look for hazards.
- Giving workers all of the proper safety training.
- Offering workers personal protective equipment.
- Giving workers the right tools for the job, such as machines to assist in moving dangerous materials.
- Making safety a priority and having on-the-job training.
- Telling all workers what they should do after an explosion or a fire.
- Doing housekeeping and general clean-up to reduce accident risks.
- Doing maintenance on things like machines or storage facilities.
- Addressing clear risks, like faulty wiring, as soon as they come to light.
- Conducting a hazard analysis to fully understand the risks workers face.
- Doing standard inspections, even when everything seems to be working perfectly.
The key is to take safety seriously and to take steps up front to reduce the risks. This does not mean an explosion will never happen, but it can reduce the odds dramatically and put employees in a position to avoid serious injuries.
After an incident
That said, if a fire or an explosion does happen at work, employees must know exactly what rights they have after the incident. They could be facing high medical bills, lost wages and other such issues.