• Ankur Upadhyay

General Recommendations for Property Loss Prevention during COVID-19 Pandemic



As more businesses are faced with shutting down their operations temporarily due to the recent coronavirus outbreak, we have developed the following collection of possible loss prevention measures which can serve as a guide to help you individually plan for a temporary shutdown.

This blog provides a property loss prevention focus for facilities that are experiencing a pandemic event. Employee absenteeism or disruption to public infrastructure may result in reduced operations or an idle facility. Property loss prevention controls during these conditions may reduce the likelihood of property damage to your facility, helping to ensure that site operations return to normal as soon as possible.


Site Security



Secure your property (buildings, external equipment and company owned vehicles) to prevent intentional or accidental damage to property:

  • Limit site access to authorized personnel during any emergency. Authorized personnel may include employees, contractors, suppliers or customers.

  • Secure and inspect all potential entrance points to your facility, including external doors, skylights, windows and fences.

  • Test and maintain security systems, including relay of remote alarms.

  • If facility is idle and vacant, provide on-site security, or at least weekly recorded security visits.

  • Fit quality security mortise dead locks on all entry/exit doors, considering company needs.

  • Check whether you can shut down all nonessential electrical lighting if possible. Keep only the minimum level of lighting where appropriate for inspection, security patrols and access purposes.

  • Ensure all building access keys are accounted for by use of a key logbook. Change locks if they are not.

  • Immediately repair any breach in building or perimeter security.

  • Ensure that CCTV and fire alarm systems are working, and all key persons have access to systems remotely.


Housekeeping


  • Maintain good housekeeping standards throughout the emergency to reduce the fire and arson hazard.

  • Provide at least 50 -ft. (15.2 -m) of separation between any combustible yard storage and buildings.

  • Ensure trash has been removed/disposed of properly, especially any ignitable liquid-soaked rags which could be found in workshops area.

  • It is recommended to spray surfaces with diluted household bleach, soap and water, or cleaning liquids with at least 70% alcohol (aka rubbing alcohol) or hydrogen peroxide. For some offices, crews spray the solutions using an electrostatically charged mist that adheres better to surfaces.



Emergency Response


  • Shut down all hazardous process equipment and utilities, where possible and operationally appropriate, including nonessential flammable liquid and gas mains.

  • Person in charge with the authority to initiate shut down of operations and send any non-essential personnel home.

  • Pandemic monitor who will access and review pandemic conditions (domestic and international) and report back to the person in charge.

  • Fire service notifier who will call and direct the fire service in the event of a fire.

  • Fire pump and sprinkler control valve operators to check fire protection equipment and ensure operation in the event of a fire.

  • Knowledgeable operators who can shut down process and support equipment when directed by the person in charge.

  • Check whether you can isolate services at the mains and drain all water systems down, except water for fire sprinklers, fire pumps, which should always remain operational.

  • Maintain temperatures at or above 5°C or 40°F for any areas with water-filled piping, such as fire sprinklers, fire pumps, process equipment, etc., unless otherwise required for operational reasons.

  • Check whether electricity can be shut down for the premises, except where needed for fire alarms, fire protection systems, security systems, etc.

  • Park all powered industrial vehicles in a fire segregated room or in an area free of combustible materials.


Fire Protection Equipment



Make all efforts to inspect, test and maintain all fire protection and detection systems to remain operational, including the following: -


  • Fire alarm systems, including automatic fire detection.

  • Fire sprinkler systems, including monthly recorded inspections of sprinkler control valves to ensure they remain locked in the open position.

  • Ensure that firefighting pumping set is working and on automatic operation condition and firefighting pipeline is pressurized and all sprinkler systems work.

  • Fire protection water supplies, including water tanks.

  • Fire extinguishing systems.

  • Portable fire extinguishers.

  • Close or remove any obstruction from self-closing fire doors.

  • Lock all fire protection control valves in the wide-open position and inspect on a weekly basis.


Combustible Materials



  • Reduce the quantities of combustible materials located inside the buildings as much as possible.

  • Combustible materials may include raw and finished goods, packaging, pallets, waste, dust, lint, oil, flammable/combustible liquids.

  • Ensure safe separation distances (1.5 m or 5 feet minimum) are maintained between all electrical equipment and combustible materials.

  • When prudent, ensure all technical rooms (i.e. mechanical, electrical, etc.) are free of combustible materials.

  • Reduce your fire hazard with safe handling and storage of combustible or ignitable liquid and gas during the emergency.

  • Minimize quantities of material stored on site.

  • Relocate storage of these products from idle production areas to dedicated ignitable-liquid storage areas, using appropriately rated containers.

  • Drain any idle processes using such material, including dip tanks, quench tanks and storage tanks, into appropriate containers and clean and/or inert, as required.


Reduce the likelihood of fire ignition by

Maintaining hot work procedures, including the use of a suitable Hot Work Permit System.
Managing temporary heaters as hot work.
Isolating electricity to idle or vacant buildings while making sure not to affect security or fire protection systems.

General Items



  • Protect valuable drawings, accounting records and similar material by storing them in fire-rated, watertight file cabinets, vaults or safes other than business premises for restoration purposes.

  • Determine if there is spoilage potential for existing product or raw material storage and take steps to reduce your exposure.

  • Fill fuel tanks of generators, fire pumps and company -owned vehicles.

  • Test and maintain on-site emergency power systems.

  • If no backup power is available on site, turn off electrical switches during any unplanned power failures to prevent reactivation of equipment before checks are completed.

  • Communicate with employees, key customers and vendors on status of your operations.


More Specialized Recommendations for Storing Areas



  • Light the outside yard storage and entrances.

  • Do not store pro duct in aisles bet ween racks; instead, store goods in trailers in the yard. King pin locks should be used for any valuable storage to reduce theft.

  • Keep stocks at least 3 ft. [91 cm] from ceiling sprinklers, electrical panels and forklift charging stations.

  • Isolate high combustible materials or high-flammable liquids in isolated equipped warehouses with trying to minimize stored amount.

  • Cutting off electricity after working hours or in case of closing except fire alarm, CCTV and firefighting equipment connections.

  • It’s highly recommended to cover all warehouses with automatic extinguishing system according to the type of stored materials.

  • Prohibit storing directly on the floor.


Procedures to be followed after Shutdown and before Restarting.


  • Follow the manufacturer' s recommendations before restarting any equipment that has been idle.


  • Reassess emergency response team positions, filling gaps and providing training as needed.


Once you're back up and running, review your business continuity plan. What worked well and what didn't? Revise the plan based on lessons learned.
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