Fire Safety on a Construction Site – As a child, one of your happiest memories will no doubt be of the fun, and indeed productive times that many of us spent in the sand pit. With the pat of a spade and a trusty fort-shaped bucket, you could go about building walls, constructing inner-city castles and controlling a well-place river or moat.
The Construction Site – No Longer Childs Play
Unfortunately, we all have to grow up at some point and the world of construction could not be more different than the comforts of your sand pit.
With heavy-duty equipment, a multitude of dangerous materials and the unpredictability of uncertain terrain, it’s no surprise that the construction site can quickly become a dangerous and unsafe environment.
With such an extent of flammable and interchangeable materials present on the building site, it may come as no surprise that fire protection is taken extremely seriously. With so many people at risk, it’s essential that fire safety procedures and products are in place to not only prevent the outbreak of a fire, but also ensure that the premises can be safely evacuated.
Luckily, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have a number of procedures in place that by legislation must be carried out and implemented on construction sites. So, first things first…
Step 1: Identify The Hazards
Three things are needed to start a fire. It is important to identify them as such:
A Source of Ignition:
• Naked Flames
• Electrical Equipment
• Light Fittings
• Friction generated from equipment
A Source of Fuel:
• Flammable liquids
• Fuel for portable equipment
• Liquefied Petroleum Gas
• Packaging materials
A Source of Oxygen:
• Natural Airflow
• Additional Sources of Oxygen
Step 2: Who’s At Risk?
Next it is important to identify just who is most at risk, remembering to record your findings. It is best to ask questions such as:
• Are these people safe?
• Can they evacuate safely?
• Why are they at risk?
Step 3: Evaluate & Protect
Next it is important to use your findings to implement your fire safety strategies. It is important to remember to:
• Reduce the risk of a fire occurring
• Remove or reduce the sources of ignition
• Remove or reduce the sources of fuel
• Remove or reduce sources of oxygen
• Reduce the risk to people in the event of a fire
• To implement general fire precautions
Step 4: Record, Plan & Train
As in any safety feature, there are always further elements to ensuring that your safety assessment of your construction site is managed accordingly and properly thought-out.
• Record your further findings and the necessary action that should be taken.
• Ask yourself the questions – Is the recording significant? What has been done to remove or reduce the risk? Are your records available for inspection?
• Inform, instruct and coordinate your workforce ensuring that Emergency Plans are in place.
• Make sure your workforce are trained and drilled in your strategies.
Step 5: Review, Review, Review
The constant monitor and implementation of both your fire risk assessments and fire drills are essential to ensuring the safety of your work site. The natural change of a construction site means that frequent assessments must be carried out to ensure that measures are controlled. Reasons for a new review may be:
• Site progression
• Change in organisation of site
• Introduction of hazardous substances
• A fire precautions failure
• Change in quantities of materials
• Increase in number of personnel
Better Safe Than Sorry
Construction sites can be a dangerous environment in themselves, let alone before a multitude of workers plying their trade With this checklist, you can strive to ensure that safety of your construction site in the event of a fire.
This post was written by Phil Warrington on behalf of Bull Products: a leading supplier on an extensive range of safety and fire safety products that can be implemented in a number of working environments.