Fire extinguishers

Fire Extinguishers and the Hazards of Compressed Gas

fire-extinguisherFire extinguishers are a vital component of every construction site, but they do come with their own set of hazards. Namely, the compressed gas contained within these high-pressure devices can cause explosions and toxic poisoning.

In March of this year, OSHA responded to a report that a worker in Ohio was found dead in the elevator control room while performing monthly fire extinguisher checks. An investigation determined nitrogen leaked into the control room resulting in an oxygen deficient atmosphere causing the worker’s death. OSHA cited the company for failing to:

  • Protect workers from potentially hazardous atmospheres created by the introduction of nitrogen into the ventilation system.
  • Train workers using pneumatic tools powered by nitrogen on the hazards, effects and how to detect nitrogen leakage.

It is important to know that special storage, use, and handling precautions are necessary in order to control these hazards. OSHA’s specific requirements include:

“If fire extinguishers are available for employee use, it is the employer’s responsibility to educate employees on the principles and practices of using a fire extinguisher and the hazards associated with fighting small or developing fires. [29 CFR 1910.157(g)(1)] This education must be provided annually and when a new employee is first hired. [29 CFR 1910.157(g)(2)]”

Employees who have been designated to use fire extinguishers as part of the emergency action plan, must be trained on how to use the fire extinguishers appropriately in the workplace. [29 CFR 1910.157(g)(3)] This training is a specialized form of education that focuses on developing or improving skills and it must be provided annually and when employees are first assigned these duties. [29 CFR 1910.157(g)(4)]

Basic safety measures for deploying a fire extinguishers in the event of a fire include:

  • Identify a safe evacuation path before approaching the fire. Do not allow the fire, heat, or smoke to come between you and your evacuation path.
  • Discharge the extinguisher within its effective range using the A.S.S. technique (pull, aim, squeeze, sweep).
  • Back away from an extinguished fire in case it flames up again.
  • Evacuate immediately if the extinguisher is empty and the fire is not out.
  • Evacuate immediately if the fire progresses beyond the incipient stage.

For more information, contact our offices at Diversified Safety Services.

The following two tabs change content below.

Nina McGinley

Latest posts by Nina McGinley (see all)

About Nina McGinley