Plant Rooms: What Are the Risks and Dangers?
For many businesses and commercial buildings, plant rooms are essential. It's here where you will find a variety of heating and ventilation equipment. You will also likely store water distribution and heating equipment in these spaces, too.
However, plant rooms pose their own dangers and risks. For example, you may expect to find different types of gas, PoC's and chemicals circulating throughout these areas. So how can you be sure that you are doing enough to protect your employees?
Safeguarding your plant room means more than merely ensuring your equipment is up to scratch. SPS offers a variety of features to help warn you in the event of any potential hazards as well as much, much more.
What Goes Into a Plant Room?
Before we consider plant room risks, let's explore the machinery you may find within them. Equipment and systems in an average plant room or space may include:
· Gas boilers
· Water heaters
· Lift and elevator mechanisms
· Sprinkler mainframes
· Refrigeration and freezing
The above is only a small cross-section of what to expect. Typically, you can expect the exact size and nature of your plant room to reflect your business and building needs. However, even smaller rooms, or those with fewer machines, are likely to pose their own risks.
Traditionally, plant rooms are known as 'boiler rooms'. However, over the years, this definition has changed. As you can see, these rooms hold more than boilers and heating alone! That is all the more reason to make safety, and checks, a priority.
What Are Some of the Bigger Plant Room Risks?
As plant rooms handle a variety of explosive or potentially hazardous materials, some risks may be more evident than others. These may include:
· The risk of combustible gas exposure and CO release
· The risk of water leakage and flooding
· The risk of electric shock or machinery breakdown
· Physical risks to human injury as a result of poor lighting
· Further physical risks through lone working
It is worth considering the weight of each of these risks. For example, lone working can be hazardous. A slip, fall, or injury may be difficult to detect if you are the sole person in the plant room. This may be more the case if there is a lot of machinery noise!
Plant rooms expunging CO, or carbon monoxide, need careful monitoring. According to the NHS, around 60 people per year die from accidental poisoning across England and Wales. While this may not be a large figure, it is 60 people larger than it needs to be. What's more, CO is infamously difficult to detect, and is known to many as the 'silent killer' - for good reason.
Issues such as gas build-up and potential flooding can be offset with simple planning and application of smart technology. For example, plant rooms must always have clear space for maintenance access. What's more, ventilation – built to UK health and safety standards – is crucial.
Concerning lone worker safety, there is also a need for anti-slip flooring, as well as alarm installations. Wherever possible, no worker should head into a plant room alone, at least not without the overwatching always on protection of the SPS audio anomaly detection (lone worker safety) module.
Of course, there is also the stipulation that boiler and plant rooms must have secure exits and entrances. Otherwise, there may be a risk of unauthorised users accessing potentially hazardous equipment.
How Can SPS Help to Make Plant Rooms Safer?
Smart Plant Systems supports bespoke monitoring and reporting functionality to ensure plant rooms are kept safe at all times. For example, SPS sensors are deployable in a variety of boiler, refrigeration, and pump units to ensure you are aware of performance, and potential for failure and / or gas / CO exposure.
In particular, a custom SPS unit, installed in just a couple of hours, will deliver real-time information to you on CO levels, gas leaks, boiler flow and return, water heaters, pump usage etc, and will alert you on potential flood risks. This removes the need for constant manual checking or human oversight, at least at the plant room level.
Lone workers are at higher risk than most in their daily lives. Statistics show that between 1,100 and 2,700 people each year are at risk of fatality when working alone in the UK. Again, this may not seem to be a particularly high statistic. However, it is one which is rising, and one which all building operators must be aware of.
With this in mind, SPS offers a raft of lone worker support. Our systems baseline any sounds made in plant room areas to determine what may be 'everyday noise'. Any noise – such as a fall or accident – that falls outside of this baseline will be reported to a building representative.
We're also able to support with 'help' voice activation and thermal imaging. Ultimately, these features work together to ensure lone workers receive backup in the worst-case scenarios.
If you run a plant room, it is crucial to keep sight of its running. Be sure to set up a system that monitors, alerts, and raises alarms should any elements of safety come under threat.
SPS covers all of the above and keeps your environment safe, secure and working as needed. Book your free demo and consultation now or contact us to learn more about SPS.