Every year there a number of serious fires on construction sites and buildings undergoing refurbishment, placing workers as well as others in the vicinity at risk.
Those in control of the site need to carry out a risk assessment to determine the extent of the danger. In many cases conducting a risk assessment will be a relatively straightforward process but should be carried out by someone who is responsible and competent enough to do so.
When conducting a fire risk assessment there are 5 basic steps that should be followed.
Firstly the hazards should be identified, this may include considering how a fire could start and what could be a fire hazard.
The risk assessment should take into consideration who may be at risk – employees, visitors and anyone who is vulnerable like disabled people.
The next step would be to evaluate and take the necessary action. They should consider the hazards and people identified to be at risk and act to remove or at least reduce risk to protect these people.
Thereafter the person conducting the risk assessment must keep a record of the risks and action taken, make a clear plan for fire safety and ensure that everyone is aware of what they need to do in the event of a fire.
Construction being such a dynamic industry, the work processes and work environment change every so often, that is why regular review of the plan is necessary. Regularly check whether the plan is still effective depending on the changes to the site.
Some of the key aspects to consider when it comes to this fire plan is:
Means of escape
- Routes of escape
- Assembly points
When considering the best means of escape during the risk assessment process, escape routes required should be determined and these should be kept clear, open and unobstructed at all times.
There should also be alternative routes in the event that these routes of escape become affected by the fire.
Those in control of the site should consider protecting routes by installing permanent fire separation and fire doors.
These escape routes should give access to a safe place where workers can assemble and be accounted for, a fair distance away from the site. One a smaller site this may be the pavement outside of the site or across the street.
These escape routes should be adequately marked with signs that are clearly visibly and well lit. Enclosed escape routes should have lighting and emergency lighting in case the electricity is cut off during the incident.
Each site should have a way of alerting people of any fires or emergency situations on site. The warning should be audible enough for everyone on the site to hear and they should be trained to recognise this warning.
All workers should be trained on emergency response procedures as well as how to deal with hazards, this training is in addition to the mandatory White Card induction training that all workers must undergo.