Facility restart risks that need addressing before allowing reopening
- Published: Monday, 11 May 2020 08:11
With businesses in many countries now preparing to reopen after a period of pandemic induced inactivity, Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) has highlighted a number of risks which need addressing before dormant facilities are reactivated.
“Restoring operations at a facility that was once idle or vacant presents another set of loss prevention challenges, particularly to manufacturing plants with hazardous equipment or processes,” explains Stephen Clark, Global Technical & Expertise Manager for Property Risk Consulting at AGCS. “For example, fuel-fired equipment may need to be restarted, which creates an additional risk of fires and explosions. There may be a reduction in workforce available to operate and maintain production equipment safely or to respond to emergencies. Also, lapses in maintenance of buildings, equipment and fire protection systems may create hazardous conditions.”
Businesses should pay particular attention to the condition of electrical equipment and installations, as around 20 percent to 30 percent of AGCS fire claims are related to these. Insurers have also seen a number of claims from fires resulting from technical defects or operational error after machinery has been restarted or cleaned in preparation for reopening of facilities, which has then caused further disruption to operations.
According to AGCS, measures for restarting businesses after a temporary closure also need to consider issues related to restoring site security. A thorough self-inspection of the site, including all buildings and equipment, to detect and correct any unsafe or abnormal conditions, such as damage, maintenance issues, improper housekeeping or storage, signs of vandalism, etc. should also be considered. Businesses should also complete and reinstate any inspection, testing and maintenance procedures that may have lapsed since the shutdown.
As always when restarting idle machinery, operators should follow standard operating procedures and manufacturer guidelines for bringing shutdown equipment or processes back online.
Fire risk of disinfectants
Facilities introducing alcohol-based (flammable) disinfectants, such as hand sanitizers, should implement proper fire safety precautions. This should include keeping them away from ignition sources, such as open flames, encouraging employees to rub their hands dry to allow fumes to safely dissipate, disposing of all waste rags in approved, normally closed containers, and storing flammables in designated cutoff rooms or approved cabinets.