Emergency factory shutdown

An unplanned emergency shutdown, due to a catastrophic equipment failure, pandemic, strikes and riots, or other unforeseen sudden events usually happens when you least expect it.

What is the hazard?

There is never a good time to be forced in to shutting down an operational facility, but it is important that the site is prepared for an emergency shutdown, so that it can be managed in a controlled way.

A factory building, office building, or other facilities, that stand vacant can be subjected to an increased risk of loss. Damage to the buildings can range from minor cosmetic damage to the complete loss of the facility.

  • The personnel are not present to detect and react to problems.
  • The utilities and machineries are sometimes turned-off without any consideration of the consequences.
  • Maintenance is often ignored.
  • The building can be an easy target for people such as thieves, vandals, or arsonists.

How to reduce the risk?

  • Activate your emergency response plan.
  • If necessary, emergency response team personnel should remain at the facility if safe to do so and be prepared to respond.
  • The local authorities, such as police, fire departments etc. should be informed that the building is vacant.
  • Inform other relevant parties such as suppliers, customers and insurer.
  • Plan visual inspection. Regular walk-trough to make sure everything is shipshape.
  • Keep records of change controls, deviation incidents etc.
  • Ensure that any hazardous materials are disposed of or appropriately stored.
  • The life period of goods is reviewed and materials which might deteriorate are removed. Some deteriorated material might cause additional damage to surroundings or require higher efforts to remove them, if not treated right in an early stage. E.g. mildew on food or other organic substances.
  • After a shutdown, ensure a secure re-start of your operation in accordance with your crisis management, business continuity plan and guidelines from original equipment manufacturers (OEM).

Protection systems

  • Sprinkler systems, where installed, should remain fully functional.
  • Automatic fire detection, where installed, should remain fully functional.
  • Inspections, tests and maintenance of sprinkler-, fire detection- and intrusion detection system are continued in the normal way.
  • Fire doors are closed.

Site security

  • Secure the perimeter of the site and all the doors and windows of the buildings. Additional shutters for windows and doors, locks or barriers are set up as needed.
  • Consider hiring a security service company or increase the existing security arrangements.
  • CCTV and intruder detection systems, where installed, should remain fully operational and extended if needed.
  • The external lighting, where installed, should be maintained.
  • The outdoor areas should be cleared of all combustible materials within a distance of 10 meters from any buildings.


  • The building’s heating should be maintained to provide a minimum background temperature. Evaluate if other utilities, including electricity, gas, water, compressed air, HVAC, steam, etc. should be isolated. (Isolate as necessary, only after careful consideration).
  • All non-critical and non-essential equipment should be shut down. All non-essential instruments, heaters, and other devices such as battery chargers and coffee machines should be shut down and unplugged from power points.
  • Consider monitoring any boilers, or other equipment, that must remain on line.
  • Check that all unnecessary gas connections and cylinders are turned off.
  • All operations that depend on outside power sources should be shut down in an orderly manner, following established procedures.
  • Some equipment such as large motors, alternators, open type transformers etc. are vulnerable if subjected to long periods of disconnection and need either moisture preventive measures and/or control, internal heating devices, usually present by construction in larger equipment, or simply being kept switched on for those long periods.
  • Large beams and rolls of paper machines, bearings or other rotating equipment need to be turned or operated now and then in order to avoid degreasing of metal rotating parts and/or bending through own weight. The OEM should be contacted to obtain information about the best maintenance practices.

If needed, please contact your insurance broker or If Insurance for more detailed advice and support.