Fire Safety in Construction

04/01/2018

Fire Safety in Construction

Construction sites, or any area where construction is being undertaken can be a dangerous environment for a magnitude of reasons, which is why everything possible should be done to limit the chances of anybody coming to harm.

A fire can break out in a home or construction site with ease as there will be a wealth of combustible materials either lying around, or forming part of the building and just as many possible causes of ignition.  Just because a construction site is small, or construction is occurring in your own home doesn’t mean the risk is in any way reduced.

In many cases, a few small and simple measures are all it would take to prevent a fire from starting and spreading. By being aware of the potential hazards, you can reduce the risk of a catastrophic fire and save lives.

Spotting The Hazards

A fire needs only three elements to burn: Oxygen, heat and fuel. Removing just one of these will both stop a fire starting and also spreading / continuing to burn. The primary consideration is therefore a fire risk assessment to identify potential causes of ignition.

In the architectural metalwork industry, a wide variety of heat-causing tools are used including grinders, drills, polishers, linishers, welding equipment and burning tackle- it’s a potential minefield without the correct precautions and rules in place.

The heat-causing tools obviously need to be used in the course of many DIY projects or commercial installations so should be kept away from combustible materials wherever is reasonably practicable. The most basic precaution is maintaining a tidy workspace, free of any unnecessary rubbish or other unused building materials such as timber, insulation, adhesives, paints and furnishings.

The list of hazards will be unique to every individual site, which will always be considered in an individual risk assessment.

Being Prepared

As well as preventing fires and taking all necessary precautions, you also need to prepare for action in case a fire does start. It’s important to have a method of raising the alarm which can be anything from shouting a warning on smaller sites, to automatic series of alarms on larger sites. Often a manual bell, klaxon or air-horn can be used.

It is vital to have fire extinguishers placed regularly throughout the site and carried by each individual trade that operates ‘hot works’ such as metal cutting, grinding and welding.

With a plan in place, it is also helpful to carry out fire drills and put into action your emergency plans and evacuations.

Review

A fire risk assessment must be site specific but can also be job specific, and must be reviewed regularly when required. Any changes to the construction method or site area could affect the level of risk.