Oxygen, heat and fuel are all easy to find on construction sites. So, it’s no surprise that the construction industry is one of the leading causes of fire. Although statistics show that the number of fires on construction sites fell by 12.3% between the years 2017/2018 and 2018/2019, it’s fair to say that fire safety remains a worrying problem for the construction industry.
Understanding how to prevent common fire hazards on construction sites can help you protect your workers and visitors. And, whether you’re an employer or the main contractor on the site, fire safety should always be your top priority.
Shouldering the responsibility of ensuring that your construction project complies with the legal duties relating to fire risks can be daunting. That is why we are sharing our detailed guide on fire on construction sites. We hope to help you understand how to prevent fires on your construction site. Read on to find out more.
The Legal Responsibilities For Fires On Construction Sites
If you want to protect your workers and ensure you’re on the right side of the law, it’s important to understand the regulations around construction site fire safety.
The relevant legislation for general construction site fire safety is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This legislation sets out that site managers must ensure that their construction site meets the required standards and that their employees have adequate fire safety training. Part of this process may involve keeping your responsible person (the person responsible for ensuring fire safety on the premises) up to date with the relevant practices and processes. Not to mention, it’s wise to ensure that your fire marshall understands their duties and responsibilities if you have one.
Additionally, the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 sets out that fire risk from construction site activities must be assessed. This includes assessing the maximum quantity of combustible materials allowed on site and ensuring that such materials are stored and used safely. This risk assessment should also identify and detail the action required to control ignition sources on site. If you’re unsure about who should be responsible for this, read our guide on appointing the right person to complete your fire risk assessment.
The Two Common Fire Risks On Construction Sites
Whether you’re at the beginning of your construction project or finishing up the job, there are two common fire risks on construction sites.
1. Flammable Materials
Unsurprisingly, common materials that are used in the process of construction, such as scaffolding, roof coverings and even waste can fuel fires if they are near ignition sources when fires break out.
2. Ignition Sources
There are many potential sources of ignition on construction sights, from combustible fuels and cigarettes to hot lighting and sparks from electrical equipment. These ignition sources can further fuel the flames and make it even more difficult to put out fires.
More than that, electrical safety is just as important as fire safety. After all, electrical faults can potentially lead to fires if the correct measures are not in place. For this reason, it’s paramount that wires and electrical equipment are installed properly and also undergo regular inspections and commissioning before use. To learn more about electrical faults, read our guide on HSG 168 – the Fire Safety in Construction guidance by the HSE.
Preventing Fires On Construction Sites
If you’re managing construction work, fire prevention is crucial. After all, a number of serious fires occur on construction sites every year. The good news is that with careful planning, many potential fires can be avoided.
1. Disposal Of Rubbish And Waste Properly
Bonfires pose a serious risk to the safety of your construction site. For this reason, it’s sensible to not dispose of rubbish and waste by burning it. If you’re planning to dispose of waste, then you will need to make alternative arrangements to get rid of construction waste.
It’s wise to keep waste away from the site boundary and any flammable materials. That way, if a fire does start, it is less likely to spread quickly.
2. Clear Away Construction Waste
It’s important to not let waste and rubbish build up around the site, as this can fuel fires. With this in mind, it makes sense to put any waste directly into a skip or container so that it is out of the way.
3. Use Heaters And Lights Carefully
Heaters are essential for construction work in cold places. However, it’s important to ensure that they are installed properly and positioned away from combustible materials.
Similarly, lights of any size can act as an ignition source. So, it’s important to ensure that lights are not covered and are positioned away from flammable items.
4. Complete A Fire Risk Assessment
A fire risk assessment is one of the most important steps in ensuring fire safety on construction sites. A risk assessment allows you to identify potential fire hazards and ensure that your existing fire safety measures and controls are working.
5. Provide Fire Safety Equipment
If you want to keep your workers and visitors safe, it’s important to have the right equipment. Yes, providing a fire extinguisher is important, but there are a host of other products you need to ensure construction site safety. Chief among these is a wireless fire alarm system.
Let’s face it, fires can be pretty stressful. But with a wireless fire alarm system in place, your workers can respond quickly to fires, increasing the chances of reducing damage to your site and keeping everyone safe. To learn more about wireless fire alarm systems, read our guide on the benefits of wireless fire alarms. If you’re ready to improve the safety of your construction site, read our tips on choosing the right fire alarm system for your site.
Depending on your location and site, you need a host of firefighting equipment. Your circumstances may require wheeled, P50, foam, water, CO2 and powder fire extinguishers, as well as various safety signs and first aid facilities.
Discover More About Fire Detection Solutions From The Experts
At Evacuator Site Alarms, we strive to design market-leading wireless fire alarm systems that help you keep your construction site safe. If you need help finding the right wireless fire safety solution for your construction site, call us on 0330 135 5337 or send an email to email@example.com. We look forward to speaking to you soon.