Importance of Controlling Fire Explosion Risks on Construction Sites

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I came across an article on SafetyCulture.com.au recently which discussed the importance of implementing measures for controlling the risks of fire and explosion in workplace.

The construction site is a particularly high risk work environment and the risks of fires and explosions are high.

Employers need to address these risks and eliminate them or implement controls to minimise these risks.

The article goes on to provide a list of measures to assist in this regard including using flameproof equipment on site.

It’s also important to ensure all workers have received the necessary safety training, including white card training. See more at http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/05/controlling-fire-explosion-risks-workplace/#.V2AmTbt97IV

Sydney Construction Site Goes up in Flames

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Source: Abc.net.au

A fire blazed out of control on a construction site in Sydney’s south-west.

The fire which broke out overnight on a Belmore property caused destruction to parts of the construction site.

The fire erupted around 11pm and emergency crews were called in to get the situation under control and stop the fire from spreading to buildings nearby.

While the fire was difficult to battle, fire crews managed to get it under control with the help of specialist foam, according to Fire and Rescue NSW Inspector Mick Wren.

Source: http://www.9news.com.au/national/2016/03/07/07/09/fire-engulfs-construction-site-in-sydneys-south-west#m6giZUjA6gyKJ0Ar.99

Welding Sparks Fire on Darling Downs Construction Site

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Source: www.theguardian.com

A small fire started on a construction site in Greenmount yesterday.

Rural Fire Brigade and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services were called to the site around 1pm on Tuesday and found that a small fire had erupted, probably due to welding sparks which had landed on some cardboard and ignited.

Thankfully the fire was extinguished quickly, without causing much damage or any injuries.

To find out more, click here. 

Barangaroo Fire May have been caused by Worker Error

Workers at the Barangaroo construction site had to quickly evacuate the site after a fire re-igniting on Friday, following a previous blaze a few weeks ago.

Smouldering coals apparently re-ignited after the fire was extinguished. Workers had to scramble to safety after coals from a fire that was supposedly extinguished weeks ago reignited placing the site’s thousands of workers at risk.

Since the incident evidence has emerged which revealed that around 20 workers had been placed in danger by the site’s manager who asked them to remain on site despite it being evacuated. This has outraged the construction union.

The company responsible for the site, Lend Lease said that the evacuation plan had gone according to plan but other reports said that the company’s emergency procedure had failed. It was lucky that the fire was extinguished quickly before the fire department even arrived so no one was hurt during the incident.

The CFMEU were outraged by the fact that some workers had been asked to stay behind during the evacuation therefore placing them at risk. CFMEU state secretary, Brian Parker was apparently furious that management placed workers lives at risk and that the site’s evacuation plan had failed.

Twenty workers were apparently ordered to stay inside the site despite the impending danger from the fire and other workers being evacuated.

A lend lease employee subsequently apologised for the incident and took responsibility for the blaze.

NSW Fire and Rescue said that the fire on March 12 could have been cause accidentally when a worker using an oxyacetylene torch may have failed to put off a smoulder piece of steel which could then have fallen from one level to the other causing the blaze.

Some experts have suggested that the fire may have been caused by an extremely flammable gap filler and polystyrene moulds.

The fire brought Sydney’s city centre to a standstill and caused the site to be evacuated. There were also fears that an 11 meter high crane on the site could fall on to the street, thankfully the crane was successfully dismantled on Sunday without incident.

Fire fighters said that although it was unusual for a fire to re-ignite, a week after it had been extinguished it was not impossible.

Experts also advised that oxy-cutting in never a good idea in confined spaces which is what was taking place on the site.

A union representative was quoted as saying:


skynews_960140There are glaring holes … which haven’t been addressed based on what’s happen just now,’ Construction Forestry, Mining and Energy Union safety officer Michael Preston said.

Sydney’s city centre was brought to a standstill last week when a large blaze started on the construction site, which initially threatened to bring down a multi-storey crane, and thousands of workers were evacuated.

The fire caused traffic gridlock and prompted union calls for an urgent city-wide audit of construction safety standards.

Mr Preston said workers had slowly been returning to the site since last week’s fire and power was being reconnected.

‘No one really knew what was going on – to get off site or to stay on site,’ he said of Friday’s fire.

Source: http://www.skynews.com.au/topstories/article.aspx?id=960140

Fire on Building Site kills 10

A fire broke out on a Russian building site, killing 10 people and injuring a further 13. The construction workers, who were residing on the building site, we injured when the fire broke out while they were staying there, not while engaged in work. There have been concerns about the attention to safety on Russian sites where authorities are often bribed to turn a blind eye to safety breaches which is evidently costing workers more than anyone else.

This post from FoxNews.com explains:

Russian authorities say a fire broke out in the basement parking lot of a new building in Moscow, killing ten and leaving thirteen injured.

The Interior Ministry said the victims were construction workers who were living in the building at the time.

The Interfax news agency reports that Tashir Construction was responsible for the building’s completion, which was due in June 2012. However, company spokeswoman Marina Gaze is quoted by the agency as saying the construction work was complete. She denied that the victims were company employees, and said the company would have to “clarify” who they were and why they were there.

The high death toll in Saturday’s fire underscores lax safety standards that have become commonplace in a country where bribery is widespread and regulations rarely enforced.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/01/26/10-construction-workers-die-in-moscow-building-fire/?test=latestnews#ixzz2JGu31tNV

Although safety on Australian sites is of a significantly higher standard than those in Russia, it is still worth recapping on what to do in the event of such as emergency.

It is the responsibility of employers to provide workers with a safe system of work and safe environment which includes providing them with appropriate emergency response procedures to follow. Workers must be trained on what to do in this emergency.

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Workers should be trained on the correct procedure for an emergency evacuation. This will include specifying the location of first aid, evacuation assembly points, emergency phone numbers and anything else you need to know about the specific sites emergency policies.  Site inductions are mandatory under OHS regulations and workers must pay attention to them and comply with the site’s policies.

According to legislature construction employers need to have emergency response plans in place that are site specific and consider all stages of the construction project in its inception. Another important aspect to consider is the ability and ease of emergency services accessing the point of the emergency. Employers must consider all possible scenarios and develop a control strategy for each such as what to do in the event of:

 

  • Fires
  • plant and vehicle rollovers
  • contact with overhead powerlines
  • excavation collapses
  • scaffold/structure,trench or building collapse
  • sudden incapacity and immobilisation of workers
  • Natural disasters

If workers are not trained on what to do in an emergency, confusion could make an already bad situation worse. It is human nature to panic and this can result in even more injuries and damage to property, that is why training workers is vital and even holding drills occasionally so that staff can familiarise themselves further with these procedures so that if an incident does occur, evacuation can take place smoothly and without further incident.. This will include routes to take in an emergency such as a fire, who to call, where to gather etc.

Remember that in the event of a fire or similar incident, self-preservation is the most important thing, if you get to safety you can be of more help than if you endanger your own life, (which you may lose in addition to costing someone else their life as well).