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September/October 2002

Safety Sense
preventative measures

The “F” Words of Safety

by Dale Malcolm

I have heard a few expletives used in the many years I have been in the glass industry. Many of these words are the same, but sound very different depending on the type of accident or problem. The two “F” words I want to talk about today are fire extinguishers and first aid. 

The Fire Extinguisher
Planning is the key to most successful, modern safety systems. Take a few minutes to determine your fire extinguisher placement and training needs. 

Fire extinguishers are broken down into four basic types: 

    • Class A: Ordinary combustibles such as wood, cloth and paper;

    • Class B: Flammable liquids such as gasoline, oil and oil-based paints;

    • Class C: Energized electrical equipment, including wiring, fuse boxes, circuit breakers and electrically operated machinery; and

    • Class D: Flammable metals (this is a very specialized type of unit).

It is important that the proper type of fire extinguisher be used for each type of fire. If you were to use a water-based fire extinguisher on a flammable liquid, the water might spread the fire. The same water-based fire extinguisher used on an electrical fire could electrocute the operator. Multipurpose fire extinguishers that are labeled ABC can be used on all three types of fires. Fire extinguishers need to be inspected visually once a month. You can do this yourself with a minimum of knowledge. The mechanism must be in good working order and the unit must be stored properly and have the correct sign marking its location. The gauge must read full and operational. When this is completed each month, you initial the tag on the unit and date it. Once a year a professional fire extinguisher service company needs to inspect the unit fully and put a current tag certifying the inspection. A fire extinguisher should be no more than 75 feet from any point in your location. Typical placement for fire extinguishers are in areas that may present a fire hazard such as a welding area or near exits. Employees should be trained in the use of fire extinguishers once a year. Many local fire departments will conduct this training for free.

While fire extinguishers are simple to use, training and proper technique can make all the difference in effectiveness. The best way to remember how to use one is the word PASS.

    • PULL the pin: This unlocks the operating handle or lever and allows the unit to operate. 

    • AIM low: Point the nozzle of the fire extinguisher at the base of the flames.

    • SQUEEZE: The lever or handle of the unit to activate the flow.

    • SWEEP: From side to side keeping the discharge pointed at the base of the flames until the fire appears to go out. Watch the fire area for re-ignition of the fire.

First Aid
First aid comes in two forms; it can be the first-aid kit that holds your various medical supplies or it can be the assistance someone gives to an injured person. These two important items require some advance planning. To be able to give proper first-aid assistance to someone, you and your co-workers should have a minimum of training. There are many videotapes, classes and books that can provide a wealth of training information. The best training is hands-on instruction given by a professional. Many companies that service first-aid kits also provide first aid and CPR training to their customers. Many organizations such as the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association have first-aid and CPR classes available.

If you expose your employees to chemicals and/or foreign objects that may get in their eyes, an eye-wash station is highly recommended. I personally have seen an eye-wash station used to flush a chemical that was sprayed in an employee’s eyes. The employee was able to use the eye wash station to rinse the chemical for 15 minutes before seeking medical attention, resulting in no permanent eye injury to the employee.

I hope you never have to use either of these, but now you are prepared in case you do. 


Dale Malcolm is technical services supervisor with Dow Automotive/ Essex ARG of Dayton, Ohio.




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