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The Top 10 Fire Hazards in the Workplace and How to Prevent Them

Fire Safety 1

Workplace fires are more common than you might think. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. fire departments respond to a fire somewhere in the nation every 24 seconds. That’s why it’s so important for businesses to understand the risks and do everything possible to prevent fires from occurring.

At Highmark Analytics, we have over 20 years of experience helping companies protect their facilities, assets, and, most importantly, their people. We distribute and service gas analyzers and emissions monitoring equipment to help organizations across industries meet EPA emissions standards and ensure their large machinery and systems run safely and efficiently. By partnering with us, we can help you choose the right equipment to minimize fire hazards right from the start. Here are 10 of the most common fire hazards in work environments and tips on mitigating the risks in your facilities.

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1.   Faulty Electrical Equipment

Electrical equipment is the leading cause of workplace fires, producing over 24,000 blazes per year. Things like old wiring, overloaded outlets, and faulty appliances can produce sparks or overheat and ignite nearby combustibles. To reduce electrical fire risks, businesses should conduct routine inspections and replace damaged or outdated electrical equipment. Ensure there are sufficient outlets so cords aren’t overloaded, and enforce organizational policies to avoid paper buildup around electronics. It’s also critical that certified electricians handle all electrical work to avoid amateur mistakes.

2.   Flammable Materials Storage

On average, over 4,500 workplace fires originate from improperly stored flammable materials. These substances, like chemicals, fabrics, solvents, and paper goods, are a key fuel source feeding facility blazes. Organizations should keep only necessary quantities onsite to safely manage them and store these items in dedicated flammable storage cabinets away from potential ignition sources. Always clearly label materials and train staff on proper handling to avoid mishaps. Also, prohibit smoking near any inventory containing flammables.

3.   Cooking Appliances

Kitchen appliances like stoves, microwaves, and toasters lead to around 2,000 annual office fires due to grease buildup and unintended operation. To use these cooking appliances safely:

  1. Keep them clean and replace any with fraying electrical cords.
  2. Never leave powered devices unattended; install exhaust hoods to remove excess heat and fumes.
  3. Have appropriate fire extinguishers nearby in case cooking materials ignite unexpectedly.

4.   Smoking Materials

Cigarettes, cigars, pipes, lighters, and other smoking materials ignite thousands of workplace fires annually due to improper disposal. To prevent such blazes, businesses must prohibit smoking indoors and except in designated outdoor areas with sturdy ashtrays and cigarette butt receptacles. Use sand-filled buckets for safe butt disposal. Also, locate outdoor smoking areas at least 25 feet from building entrances and any external flammable storage.

5.   Hot Work Activities

Hot work like welding and soldering produces sparks that can travel up to 35 feet to ignite materials. Without precautions, this leads to many avoidable blazes — over 2,800 per year, according to NFPA data. To perform hot work safely, businesses should designate specific areas away from combustibles for these activities and cover nearby surfaces with fire-resistant sheets as an added barrier. Also, be sure to shut off any fuel sources, properly ventilate the space before beginning, and fire-watch the area for at least 30 minutes after work is completed.

6.   Portable Heaters

While convenient on cold days, portable space heaters are responsible for over 1,500 workplace fires per year due to close contact with combustibles. To use portable heaters safely, businesses should only purchase newer, UL-certified models with tip-over protection. Power off and unplug heaters when leaving workspaces unattended. Place such devices on flat surfaces at least 3 feet from anything flammable and never allow storage of objects on top, which can fall onto heating elements.

7.   Spontaneous Combustion

While less common, materials like oily rags can self-ignite through spontaneous combustion under the right conditions. This occurs when oils undergo an oxidation reaction leading to intense, localized heat buildup. Properly dispose of grease-stained rags in covered metal containers to prevent spontaneous combustion fires. Also, stack lumber or similar material neatly to enable airflow and slow oxidation risks. Keep any piles separated from buildings and flammables, and control dust accumulation on lighting, machinery, and electronics, which can also ignite.

8.   Industrial Ovens and Boilers

High-powered equipment like industrial ovens and boilers reach extreme temperatures and thus carry explosion dangers from gas leaks. To operate them safely, use qualified personnel to install all such equipment according to manufacturer specifications. Perform routine maintenance and inspections to check for damage or component failures that may lead to gas leaks or other hazards. Also, be sure to properly train staff on all safe equipment use procedures. For an added safety net, integrate automatic emergency shut-off functionality connected to gas leak detectors.

9.   Flammable Liquid Spills

Flammable liquids also introduce extreme hazards, especially if large uncontrolled spills occur. Flammable liquid spills can create substantial quantities of vapors that ignite rapidly into intense flash fires from nearby ignition sources. Always use leak-proof containers clearly labeled with their volatile contents to prevent such catastrophes. Also, store and transport only necessary quantities isolated from potential ignition sources. Have proper spill containment and cleanup supplies on hand for immediate deployment in case of any escaping liquids. Make sure to train staff on proper spill response procedures as well.

10.  Arson and Vandalism

Unfortunately, malicious acts also contribute to workplace fires. Installing security alarm systems with video surveillance capabilities goes a long way toward deterrence by increasing the risk of getting caught. Ensure all facility entry points stay locked during off hours. Quickly repair any vandalism and graffiti that could inspire additional such behaviors if left unchecked. Always report suspicious activity on properties promptly to law enforcement.

Reduce Your Risks with Help from the Experts

Now that you know about the top 10 workplace fire hazards, it’s time to evaluate your facility thoroughly. By understanding the unique risks present and taking proactive precautions, companies can feel confident they’ve taken every reasonable measure to prevent fires and protect what matters most. Here at Highmark Analytics, your safety drives our mission. Please reach out if you have any questions or want to discuss options for your facility.

Our team at Highmark Analytics has extensive experience installing emissions monitoring equipment and helping organizations meet critical EPA emissions standards for safe operation. We offer comprehensive site assessments and can make expert recommendations customized for your exact environment. Over 50% of Fortune 500 companies trust us to help them make the right purchase the first time to truly minimize fire risks. We’d love to schedule a consultation to explore ways we can help you operate both profitably and safely. Reach out today to get started!

Understanding Combustion Analysis: What a Combustion Analyzer Tells You

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Operating heavy machinery like boilers, heaters, and furnaces requires diligent monitoring to ensure efficient, safe, and compliant performance. This is where combustion analyzers come in. As an expert integrator of emissions monitoring solutions with over 20 years of experience, Highmark Analytics knows that the right combustion analyzer provides invaluable insight into combustion efficiency and safety. Continue reading to explore what combustion analyzers measure, how the readings should be interpreted, and what actions operators should take based on the data. Whether you’re looking to improve efficiency, meet emissions regulations, or ensure workplace safety, understanding your combustion analyzer is the critical first step.

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The Core Measurements

Modern combustion analyzers are equipped with an array of sensors to measure key parameters. While options exist for more advanced units, most combustion analyzers provide real-time readings on:

These four measurements give operators the essential data to optimize efficiency, identify issues, and ensure safety. Let’s look at how to interpret each reading.

Reading Oxygen – Balancing Air

The oxygen reading provides immediate insight into combustion efficiency and safety. Too much oxygen indicates excess air that absorbs heat and reduces efficiency. Dangerously low oxygen risks incomplete combustion and hazardous gas accumulation. Compare your oxygen reading to your burner’s recommended range – usually between 2% to 4% for boilers and 4% to 10% for heaters and furnaces. Work with Highmark Analytics to fine-tune based on fuel type for ideal efficiency.

Monitoring Combustibles – Staying Safe

The total combustibles reading detects the combined accumulation of carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H2) gases – byproducts when fuel doesn’t fully combust. Even low single or double-digit parts per million (ppm) combustibles indicate incomplete combustion. If combustibles rise continuously, it likely signals insufficient air for the fuel input. However, any gradual increase warrants further investigation into equipment wear or failure. Consult Highmark Analytics early on for professional guidance. Our team can troubleshoot issues like:

Getting to the root cause of rising combustibles quickly is key to restoring safety and efficiency.

Tracking Temperature – Locating Losses

The combustion analyzer’s built-in thermocouple tracks inlet air temperature versus exhaust temperatures. Performing a flue gas analysis determines your net system efficiency by revealing how much heat actually transfers into your machinery versus getting lost out of the exhaust. While expecting some loss is reasonable, you likely have room to lower excess air and enhance heat capture. Highmark Analytics can holistically assess your burners, controls, and systems to curb losses. Our team will evaluate:

Then, deliver data-backed recommendations tailored to your equipment.

Configuring Alarms & Using Data

Getting readings on oxygen, combustibles, and temperature means nothing without properly configuring alarm thresholds and action plans. Highmark Analytics draws from decades of experience to provide consultation services on how to:

We also offer solutions to record data for tracking over time. Highmark Analytics has you covered whether you need local data logging or seamless software integrations for real-time visibility. Our services include:

This creates accountability within your team to respond to alarms while giving leadership data to drive capital and operational decisions.

Monitoring Efficiency

While some heat loss is unavoidable, analyzers reveal how much more heat you can capture. By comparing inlet air to exhaust temperatures, our engineers perform flue gas analysis to pinpoint savings opportunities. Upgrading old insulation, redirecting airflow, adjusting stack dimensions, and replacing worn burner components have yielded some sites 10% to 25% fuel savings. Finding the source of loss is the critical first step – then we size solutions. These system assessments pay dividends through enhanced safety and reduced expenses.

Adding Toxic Gas Monitoring

For facilities needing to meet regulatory emissions limits, upgrading to integrated toxic gas sensing can simplify compliance. We offer analyzers featuring built-in sensors for gases like:

These streamline monitoring, alarms, and reporting for regulated toxins and greenhouse gases using the same user-friendly interfaces as standard analyzers.

Upgrading Your Analyzer

If you currently lack a combustion analyzer or have an older unit, upgrading now is likely your most cost-effective option. Simply put, combustion analyzers pay for themselves by unlocking combustion efficiency and safety. New touchscreen interfaces for clear real-time and historical visibility make decision-making easier.

Reach out to Highmark Analytics to explore analyzers like:

With flexible purchase, rental, and service programs available, upgrading needn’t break budgets. Our team draws from extensive first-hand product experience to ensure you get set up with the right analyzer for long-term success the first time.

Quality Combustion Analysis in Your Hands

Understanding what your analyzer tells you transforms meaningless numbers into actionable insights for efficiency, compliance, and safety. As your knowledgeable partner, Highmark Analytics strives to place tailored solutions in your hands through:

Want to improve your combustion monitoring? Contact Highmark Analytics to explore your options with a solutions-focused partner. Our decades of hands-on emissions analysis experience mean in-depth guidance tailored to your operations. Connect with one of Highmark Analytics’ combustion efficiency specialists today for a complimentary site assessment and analyzer selection consultation.

What is the Purpose of Gas Analysis in the Cement Industry?

The cement industry plays a pivotal role in the construction sector, providing the fundamental building material for infrastructure development worldwide. Cement production involves complex chemical processes that require precise control and monitoring. One crucial aspect of this control is gas analysis. At Highmark Analytics, we want to help you understand the purpose of gas analysis in the cement industry and its significance in ensuring quality and efficiency.

Understanding Cement Production

Before delving into the specifics of gas analysis, it’s essential to understand the basics of cement production. Cement is manufactured through a process that involves several stages, including crushing and grinding raw materials, blending them, and finally heating them to high temperatures in a kiln. This results in the formation of clinker, which is then ground into a fine powder to produce the final cement product.

The Role of Gas Analysis

Gas analysis plays a crucial role in cement production for several reasons:

  1. Monitoring Combustion

One of the primary applications of gas analysis in the cement industry is monitoring combustion processes. In the kiln, where raw materials are heated to produce clinker, precise combustion control is essential. Gas analysis allows plant operators to monitor the composition of gases within the kiln, ensuring that the combustion process is efficient and that emissions are within acceptable limits.

  1. Quality Control

Maintaining consistent product quality is paramount in the cement industry. Gas analysis helps in quality control by monitoring the chemical composition of clinker and cement. By analyzing the gases released during the production process, operators can ensure that the desired chemical reactions are occurring, leading to the formation of high-quality clinker.

  1. Energy Efficiency

Energy consumption is a significant cost factor in cement production. Gas analysis aids in optimizing energy efficiency by providing insights into combustion efficiency. By adjusting parameters based on gas analysis data, operators can reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, leading to cost savings and environmental benefits.

  1. Emission Monitoring and Compliance

Environmental regulations require cement plants to monitor and control emissions of pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and particulate matter. Gas analysis systems are instrumental in continuous emissions monitoring, ensuring that cement plants comply with local and international environmental standards.

  1. Process Optimization

Gas analysis data is invaluable for process optimization. By analyzing the composition of gases at different stages of production, plant operators can identify bottlenecks, inefficiencies, or deviations from the ideal process conditions. This information enables them to make informed decisions and implement improvements to enhance overall productivity.

Gas Analysis Techniques

Several gas analysis techniques are commonly used in the cement industry:

  1. Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) Spectroscopy

FTIR spectroscopy is a powerful technique that allows for the simultaneous measurement of multiple gases. It is particularly useful for monitoring emissions and processing gases in cement plants. FTIR analyzers can detect a wide range of gases, including CO2, SO2, NOx, and VOCs.

  1. Gas Chromatography

Gas chromatography is a versatile technique for separating and quantifying individual gas components. It is often used for analyzing gas samples from various points in the production process to determine the concentration of specific gases.

  1. In-situ Gas Analysis

In-situ gas analyzers are directly installed at specific points in the cement plant, such as the kiln or stack, for real-time monitoring. These analyzers provide continuous data, allowing for immediate adjustments to the process.

  1. Extractive Gas Analysis

Extractive gas analyzers collect samples from various process points and transport them to a central analyzer for measurement. This approach is suitable for applications where in-situ analysis is challenging due to extreme temperatures or hazardous conditions.

The Benefits of Gas Analysis in Cement Production

The integration of gas analysis into cement production processes offers several key benefits:

  1. Improved Product Quality

By ensuring the proper chemical reactions occur during production, gas analysis contributes to the consistent production of high-quality cement. This quality assurance is crucial for meeting customer expectations and industry standards.

  1. Enhanced Efficiency

Gas analysis helps cement plants optimize their processes, increasing energy efficiency and reducing operational costs. This is particularly important in an industry with high energy consumption.

  1. Environmental Compliance

With stricter environmental regulations, cement plants must monitor and control emissions effectively. Gas analysis systems provide the data needed to meet regulatory requirements and minimize environmental impact.

  1. Data-Driven Decision Making

Gas analysis provides real-time data that allows plant operators to make informed decisions quickly. This enables proactive troubleshooting and process adjustments, improving overall plant performance.

Highmark Analytics: Your Partner in Gas Analysis Solutions

As the cement industry continues to evolve and face new challenges, reliable gas analysis solutions are essential for ensuring efficiency, compliance, and sustainability. Highmark Analytics is your trusted partner in providing state-of-the-art gas analysis systems tailored to the specific needs of cement plants.

Our expertise in gas analysis technology and a commitment to innovation and customer support make us a leader in the industry. We offer a range of gas analyzers, including FTIR spectroscopy and in-situ systems, designed to meet the unique requirements of cement production.

With Highmark Analytics, you can:

Gas analysis is vital to cement production, serving multiple purposes, from quality control to environmental compliance. By leveraging advanced gas analysis techniques and solutions, cement plants can achieve improved product quality, energy efficiency, and sustainability while meeting the demands of an evolving industry.

As you strive to enhance your cement plant’s performance and sustainability, partner with Highmark Analytics for comprehensive gas analysis solutions tailored to your specific needs. Contact us today to learn more about how our expertise and technology can benefit your operations.

Choosing the Right Gas Detection Equipment for Your Workplace

In any work environment, safety is a priority. But industrial facilities require special care and consideration as by the nature of their purpose, potentially harmful gases must be carefully monitored with gas detection analyzers. To ensure that employees are safe, this guide will walk you through the most common types of industrial gas analyzers. Choosing the right one can be daunting, as there are many different gas detection devices on the market, and it is easy to purchase the wrong one if you do not know what you need to monitor. This guide will help you find the best gas detection and detector system that suit your workplace needs.


Various industrial gas combustion analyzers are available in industrial workplaces, and choosing the right one depends on considering unique factors, including mobility needs. Therefore, when choosing a gas analyzer, ask yourself does the analyzer need to be mobile, what gases are you monitoring, and any specific requirements regarding compliance. The answers to these questions will help you determine which direction of gas analyzer is best fit.

Portable Gas Analyzers

Portable gas analyzers are handheld devices that employees can easily move around facilities, from room to room, to calculate gas levels successfully within engines, boilers and turbines. Portable gas analyzers offer convenient mobility around job sites, and they are small and compact, making them easy to carry around. Portable gas analyzers are an essential tool for field workers moving from various job sites, or testing fixed units such as boilers or engines. The instrument can also be configured to measure variety of gases based on the testing needs.

Fixed Gas Monitoring Systems

In certain industrial work environments, there are areas constantly prone to harmful gas exposure. Fixed analyzers are the best tools for keeping these areas under regular watch. Fixed gas analyzers are also known as stationary gas analyzers, which do not create much mystery surrounding the device’s purpose. These gas monitors are installable in work zones, providing a consistent means of maintaining constant surveillance over engines or equipment that is known for putting off gas emissions. In addition, with a fixed analyzer, employees are swiftly alerted to hazardous gas when they are in another room entirely, or even remotely.

Gas Detection Parameters

Gas analyzers are used in the following settings: HVAC, boilers, burners, engines, gas turbines, concrete lime and stone, metal and steel plants, and more. These locations among others have EPA protocol standards for air monitoring that must be adhered to. Knowledge of your plant requirements, and answering the following categories will ensure you have the right equipment for the job.

Single Gas Detectors

If you only need to monitor for one type of hazardous gas, then a single gas detector will do the job. Carbon monoxide (CO), phosphine (PH3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2,) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) are just a few of the gases you can find a suitable single gas detection device for easily. A Testo 300 is an example of a flexible testing instrument capable of configuration between 1 to 3 gases.

Multi-Gas Detectors

Some worksites have multiple gases that they must monitor regularly, or they might not know the hazards in the work zone air. For instances like these, you should use multi-gas detectors. As the name suggests, a multi-gas detector tracks more than one hazardous material in the area. Do not buy several single-gas detectors if you need to detect multiple gases simultaneously. Seek a suitable multi-gas option instead, such as the Testo 350, a multi-gas analyzer that can measure up to 6 gases, configured to meet your testing needs.

Recognizing & Preventing Health Hazards

Many gases and vapors are invisible to the naked eye. However, they still threaten employee health and workplace safety. Dangerous gases and vapors create an unsafe environment that can cause employees to get sick or even die. Using the right safety equipment to keep employees safe is extremely important. Regardless of what type of gas detection equipment you select, there are a few key factors that you need to consider when selecting this type of equipment. Those include:


A factor to consider when purchasing industrial gas detectors is their type of sensor. Different sensors excel at detecting different types of gases, so it’s crucial to choose one that’s appropriate for your workplace’s unique requirements.

Catalytic Bead Sensors

Catalytic bead sensors are one of the most widely used sensor types, thanks to their ability to detect flammable gases accurately. These sensors work by converting the gas into heat, which is then measured by the sensor. This heat is produced by the combustion of the gas on a metal wire, usually platinum or palladium.

Infrared Sensors

Infrared sensors are ideal for detecting gases with low vapor pressure, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and refrigerant gases like R-22 and R-134a. These sensors work by measuring the infrared radiation absorbed by the gas. The absorption of infrared radiation by a gas is proportional to the gas’s concentration so that the sensor can detect even very low concentrations of the gas.

Electrochemical Sensors

Electrochemical sensors are excellent at detecting toxic gases like chlorine (Cl2), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), and ammonia (NH3). These sensors measure the electrical current generated by a chemical reaction between the gas and an electrode. As the gas concentration increases, the electrical current also increases, providing a reliable measurement of the gas concentration.

Photoionization Detectors

Photoionization detectors (PIDs) are suitable for detecting volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other gases with low ionization potentials. These sensors use ultraviolet light to ionize the gas molecules, producing an electrical current that the sensor measures. PIDs are especially useful in industrial settings where the presence of VOCs can be a significant hazard.


When it comes to gas detection and combustion monitoring, accuracy is critical. If a gas analyzer doesn’t detect hazardous gases accurately, it can create a false sense of security, putting employees at risk. For this reason, choosing a gas analyzer that provides reliable and accurate readings is essential.


Calibration is crucial to ensuring the accuracy of gas analyzers. Calibration involves adjusting the analyzer to measure gas concentrations accurately. Calibration should be performed regularly, at least annually if not more frequently as per identified standards by the facility or air permits, to ensure the gas analyzer is functioning correctly. Many EPA compliance requirements details how frequently calibration is required. Highmark Analytics can assist you in understanding your permit for compliance regulations, and meeting these standards.

Industrial gas analyzers are an essential tool for ensuring workplace safety. With the wide range of gas combustion devices available on the market, finding the right one for your needs can be challenging. However, by considering factors like mobility, gas detection parameters, sensor types, and accuracy, you can choose a gas detector that provides reliable and accurate readings, keeping your employees safe from hazardous gases. Our team at Highmark Analytics can help you find the right gas combustion and emissions equipment. Contact us today to learn more.