Construction sites are a high risk for fires, as the work often involves the use of tools that can cause fires or electricals that also can catch fire. Every day in the UK there are on average 11 construction fires, so it is clear that more actions are needed to reduce the chances of a fire on sites.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 outlines the law for construction site general fire safety. The FSO stipulates that a ‘responsible person’ must undertake risk assessments and implement appropriate measures to minimise the risk of death or injury caused by fire hazards on a construction site. The person responsible for doing the risk assessments will usually be the site manager or the principal contractor in control of the site.
How to do a fire risk assessment
There are five steps involved in completing a fire risk assessment:
In this step, you should look for all of the potential ways that a fire could start and list them. As well as identifying ignition and sources of fuel, you should also identify sources of oxygen. On a construction site, there can be many different types of sources of ignition, including naked flames, faulty or misused electrical equipment or overloads, hot works (e.g. welding) or even from workers smoking on site.
The next step is to identify who would be at risk from a potential fire. This would include employees, site visitors, contractors and maybe pedestrians walking past the site. You should highlight any vulnerable people, such as disabled people or pregnant people who might have difficulty escaping a fire. There may be nearby buildings that could also be affected by a fire on your site. You should consider people who work alone at the site, such as security guards and people who work in isolated areas, as well as people who are less familiar with the site.
This part of the fire risk assessment involves reviewing the findings of the first two steps and putting remedial actions into place. Therefore, you look at the potential fire causes, as well as who and what could be affected by a fire. Then you take any actions that can help to reduce the risk, such as moving flammable objects and installing fire extinguishers, fire blankets and other equipment in suitable places.
An important aspect of the fire risk assessment is to record the risks and also record the actions that have been taken to reduce risks, then designing your fire plan. Also, there should be adequate training in place to ensure people know what to do in the event of a fire on the site. When new workers start on the site, they should be given training on what happens in the event of a fire.
Your fire risk assessment should be completed regularly and if there are any changes on-site, a new fire risk assessment should be done.
Fire safety is such an important aspect of running a construction site, and fire safety management can be improved through the use of technology such as StarFire. This advanced fire safety technology involves the installation of an unlimited number of units around your site, which are connected to ensure a site-wide alarm. The robust units can be used both internally and externally and are CE marked and compliant with all key safety legislation.
View the StarFire plan to see how to improve fire safety on your site.