Reducing Fire Hazards with Smart Waste Management

waste build up can be a fire hazard

Reducing Fire Hazards with Smart Waste Management

Reducing fire hazards within the workplace is a priority for every business, but many companies may find themselves not knowing where to start when it comes to reducing fire risks posed by waste materials. 

The two main ways of reducing waste-related fire hazards are better storage and making your materials less appealing and accessible to potential arsonists. Compactors and baler machines are key in meeting both of these hazard-reducing criteria. 

Machinery such as compactors and balers are a necessary investment in the safety of your employees, assets and customers, as they reduce the risk of fire hazards – including arson – drastically. These products compress waste into a manageable and safer size and shape, with balers compacting waste into cube-shaped bales specifically for better storage. 

Risk of Workplace Fires

Anyone dealing with waste will know that fire is a very real risk, and one that businesses simply cannot afford to ignore.

Waste fires have been hitting the headlines lately, with three major ones occurring in one week in the UK back in March. These fires hit Siteserv Recycling’s waste storage facility in the Vale of Glamorgan, Japanese Auto Parts’ scrapyard in Glasgow and a waste plant in Exeter.

Unfortunately, these aren’t rare – every year over 22,000 fires occur in non-domestic buildings. This causes an average of 17 deaths and over 1,000 related injuries. The majority of these fires happen in the workplace, with the leading cause being negligence.

Fire is such a big killer due to the toxic fumes produced by the flames. Many general waste bins have contents that would contribute to these toxic fumes, so it’s essential that businesses have proper processes in place to minimise the risk and spread of fire. The proper handling and disposal of waste is an important and integral part of the housekeeping process. Paper, cardboard and combustible materials present a very real fire hazard in many workplaces.

How to Reduce the Risk of Fire

Here are some of our tips for reducing the risk of fire due to waste:

  • Don’t let waste build up – have a defined process for managing it.
  • Compact waste to reduce its volume.
  • Reduce the time waste is sat at your facility with efficient waste management processes and regular collections.
  • Consider proper storage of waste and combustible materials.
  • Ensure waste produced doesn’t exceed the capacity of the bins provided.
  • Don’t ever obstruct fire exits with rubbish – it could be you who needs to escape in the event of a fire.

By ensuring your waste management processes are efficient, you reduce the amount of time that waste is sat at your facility. Efficient processes also reduce the number of trucks on the road, meaning fewer emissions, as well as ensuring waste is collected in a timely manner.

For automated monitoring and collections, take a look at our CONNECT Intelligence system.

We always advise clients to have a designated area for waste disposal, and to minimise the amount of time waste is stored at the workplace. The frequency and cost of waste collections is vital. When planned correctly, effective waste management actually reduces costs, whilst also minimising collections and emissions. Good waste management will also divert recyclable materials from landfill, reduce the amount of waste on site, help you meet sustainability targets and create revenue from the sale of these materials.

Greenbank offers advice on where to locate your bins, skips and waste equipment to minimise the risk of fire and make your waste process more efficient. With our intelligent waste logistics, we find the best solutions that save on labour as well as increasing safety.

Storing Waste Safely

We advise using containers made of non-combustible material. Metal bins are often used as they don’t burn and so won’t add to the fire. The rubber lid can distort and seal the top of the bin, starving the fire of oxygen.

Where possible, restrict access to where waste is stored. Rubbish containers should never be overfilled and always kept securely shut.

Waste containers should not be stored near your buildings where possible. Security devices such as cameras, lighting and alarms are a good idea for storage areas.

Companies with large volumes of waste paper, cardboard or plastic packaging will benefit from using a cardboard compactor instead of a vulnerable open skip. This not only reduces the risk of fire but can compact waste so it takes up less space and requires fewer collections. 

Compactors mechanically compress waste so that it’s smaller, easier to manage and safer in terms of arson risk. 

Manage and store your waste more effectively by finding the right Static, Portable or Polystyrene compactor to suit your needs. 

Beat the Arsonists

It’s a distressing fact that arson is rife in the UK, and the presence of combustible materials often makes businesses an easy target. To reduce the risk, waste materials can be compacted or baled and stored securely, using a Semi-Automatic or Fully Automatic Baler

Compacting materials makes the volume much smaller, reducing the appeal to arsonists. Baling waste materials compresses the waste into uniform bales, making for easy storage, so your materials can be packed away before being collected.

No matter how much you prepare, fires are a real possibility. Whether a fire occurs from the actions of an arsonist or another type of fire risk, every business needs to take as much action to prevent fires as possible and be informed. Prepare for an emergency by making sure you have your in-house fire safety equipment clearly labelled and your staff training up to date. 

Effective Waste Management

Organising effective waste management can feel overwhelming. Increasing productivity, improving safety, reducing risks and labour needed and streamlining for efficiency is possible for your business, especially with the right help and guidance. 

Greenbank is dedicated to making waste management work for you through our blend of great products, expertise and customer service. We make waste cost less, but we also make waste easier to manage in order to save you both time and money. 

To help out, we’ve created a handy guide on how you can become more cost-effective and reduce compliance risks while also retaining quality by optimising your waste management policies and practices. Just click the button below to download it today.

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