Common Causes Of Fire On Construction Sites

fire on construction site

Construction site fires put workers lives at risk but also threaten the property of the public in surrounding areas. Construction sites need to have fire safety equipment and fire safety measures in place to deter, prevent and fight all types of fires.

Read on to discover the most common sources of ignition on construction sites and how the responsible person(s)/on-site management can control these risks to ensure fire safety compliance.

IGNITION RISKS

It is important that you take action to control ignition sources as misuse, negligence or a lack of safety measures can have devastating effects. Smoking can cause a fire hazard when cigarettes are not disposed of and stubbed out properly. To reduce the risk, smoking should be totally prohibited on-site or designated smoking areas should be created away from the main work site and offices.

Arson is a huge safety issue for construction sites and the site management should reduce the opportunity for an arsonist to strike by strictly controlling access and remaining vigilant. Keep the site tidy and promote adequate material storage to reduce fuel sources for arsonists.

Hot works lead to heat, sparks and flames that can cause a fire. Precautions include clearing the area of combustible materials, suitable fire-fighting equipment, and careful observation. A permit to work (PTW) system can help manage the risk on larger projects.

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ELECTRICAL FAULTS

No matter the size or purpose, construction sites are full of potential fire hazards. However, the sites at the highest risk are those undergoing refurbishment, demolition or construction.

Old wiring is always a potential fire risk as it has been untended, potentially tangled and could have been overheating for a long time. Damaged electrical cables or leaving them unresolved can cause a fire to start.

Lighting and heaters should be placed away from combustible material, and halogen and halide lights should not be used due to high operating temperatures. To further reduce the risk of fire on-site, anything electrical should be tested, inspected and commissioned before use. Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) should be carried out in accordance with the HSE guidance note HSG107 which advocates a risk-based testing policy. Electrical installations must also meet the BS 7671: 2008 requirements for electrical installations, which includes a specific section on construction sites.

Thorough assessment and precautions to control ignition sources and meet adequate fire safety standards on-site must always meet CDM Regulations 2015.

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FLAMMABLE SOLIDS, LIQUIDS AND GASES

Construction sites contain many flammable solids, liquids and gases, and a singular source of ignition can start a catastrophic fire.

The Site Waste Management Plans Regulations 2008 (enforced by the Environment Agency) set the standards for the management of building materials and waste on-site. Combustible rubbish on-site is a serious fire and safety risk and responsible persons should set clear site rules and make sure these are enforced as part of the fire risk assessment to keep it controlled. Facilities for rubbish storage (positioned away from other site risks) should always be provided to keep rubbish contained.

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HOW TO ENSURE COMPLIANCE

On every construction site, there must be a designated ‘Responsible Person’ whose duty it is to ensure that fire safety measures are enforced. All fire-fighting equipment i.e. fire extinguishers must be maintained in good working order, undergo an annual maintenance test and should be certified to industry standards.

At Howler, we make fire safety compliance easy. Our self-service fire extinguishers have multiple third-party certifications. They are manufactured to make an annual inspection, tests and routine visual checks easier for those on-site, reducing the need for out-sourced maintenance.

In addition to our compliant fire extinguishers, we also have a range of wireless alarm systems that are essential for keeping your construction site fire safety compliant. Wireless fire alarms support compliance and are better suited than wired alternatives due to the ever-changing nature of construction sites.

For more advice on construction site fire safety compliance, get in touch with our knowledgeable team on 0330 7000 777 or [email protected]

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