Fire risks do not just plague a finished construction project — Construction sites at all stages are susceptible to fire losses and in turn, substantial claims on your Construction Insurance.
At times, site conditions may be so unique or challenging that alternative designs or construction methods and materials should be considered at the outset of a project to prevent the project from being exposed to unnecessary fire risk at later stages.
Fires Are Rare But Serious
Fires at construction sites are relatively rare, but that does not detract from their seriousness — they are often devastating and sometimes fatal, threatening not only people on-site but neighbours and people near the site too.
Extinguishing your construction site’s fire risks involves a solid initial design and planning as well as managing the risk throughout the entire construction process.
Those in charge of construction site health and safety are required under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and the Regulatory Reform Order/Fire Scotland Act 2005 to pinpoint their site’s specific fire risks and manage the key issues of fire safety.
Managing these issues, listed below, is the solid foundation for keeping your site free from avoidable fire risks.
- Conduct a risk assessment.
- Provide a safe means of escape.
- Implement a system to alert people on-site to emergencies.
- Supply the appropriate means of fighting a fire.
Managing Risk is Key to Fire Prevention
There are many factors which determine the best way to manage these issues.
For example, the appropriate means for fighting fire varies according to the type of construction project and the materials used.
Certain buildings are more vulnerable to fire during the construction phase before final building regulation requirements are in place, such as high rise construction and timber frame construction.
Refurbishing a building can also come with higher-than-normal fire risks.
When construction firms work on sites that come with an increased risk of fire, the Health and Safety Executive expects duty holders to take additional precautions as necessary.
Make Sure You Carry Out Fire Risk Assessments
Because fires can easily spread to neighbouring land or buildings, where the lives of people in adjacent properties are at risk from a construction site fire, site managers should conduct an off-the-site assessment.
All duty holders in the supply chain should be actively communicating risks and strategies to control fire during the construction phase.
Avoid process fire hazards by storing combustible materials safely away from sources of ignition.
Further guidance for clients, designers and those managing and carrying out construction work involving significant fire risks can be found in the HSG 168 Fire Safety in Construction page on the HSE website.
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