Sprinklers in the Workplace

With the amount of new buildings, factories and apartment complexes been built these days it exposes more people to sprinklers. Sprinklers are now a legal requirement in many industries including, health, disability and aged care facilities. They are also required in high rise living.

With the rapid rise in sprinkler installation there has also been a rapid rise in accidental activation, many of which could have been avoided.

Some recent incidents include:

  • Workers that think it’s a great idea to hang Halloween or Christmas decorations from the sprinkler heads. The sprinkler heads are quite delicate and when decoration was forcibly removed it ended with the work area completely flooded.

  • A tradesman using a hot glue gun in an enclosed laundry space. He was using it on the ceiling right next to the sprinkler head. As the sprinklers are heat-activated it didn’t take long for things to go awry.

  • A young lady in a hotel room with her wedding dress would not fit in the wardrobe. She decided to hang her dress from the “funny looking thing” on the ceiling.

  • There have also been countless incidents in factories and warehouses where a sprinkler head has been damaged and a very sheepish-looking forklift driver is standing nearby.

  • Painters painting over concealed sprinklers and even standard sprinklers. By painting over them, they have dramatically affected their ability to operate.

  • A person in a residential unit used a cockroach bomb and gas heater/ blower to ‘cook’ any insects inside. Unfortunately, the temperature at the ceiling height exceeded 70 degrees, and flooded three floors of a residential unit complex.

Where some of these incidents may seem comical, the result is far from funny. The damage that an activated sprinkler can cause can be quite extreme, from extent to cost. When a sprinkler has been activated they cannot be simply turned off. The Fire Brigade are required to shut the valves, drain the system, change the heads. A few tips for safety with sprinklers in the workplace:

  • If you are going to do any work near the ceiling, stop, look up and just make sure you know the exact location of the heads. Especially before you use a ladder or scissor lift.

  • If you must carry an item that is long do not carry it vertical. Carry it horizontal and make sure you have a college that can be used as a spotter so you don’t run into others.

  • Under no circumstances are things to be hung from a sprinkler.

  • If you’re a tradie with a work van that has a ladder or equipment on the roof be vigilant when entering underground car parks.

  • Do not throw anything around in an office space. One bad throw could end up costing a lot of money.

  • Do not use industrial gas heaters in rooms with sprinklers

For further information, contact us

Aaron Gormly

Business Manager & Emergency Management Consultant

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