Construction is a dangerous trade, because most of its activities take place in temporary circumstances, where the work environment itself is full of danger. It is not uncommon for most construction sites to contain a lot of warning signs and cordoned off areas, because of the constant dangers to which its workers and visitors are exposed.
Construction is an activity that brings together a number of materials and assembles them or further processes them to make them into permanent structures. This means that at most times, these sites will be full of materials temporarily stored, till they take their place in the structure. One constant hazard that most project managers on construction sites are always worried about, besides that from falling objects, unsafe perimeters and difficult access, is the threat of fire. Construction sites will contain a fair amount of fuels, oil, wood, cardboard, paper and other things all of which are inflammable. Because of the temporary nature of activities, most of these materials are stored in heaps and places from where they can be easily accessed. Construction also involves a fair amount of welding and the use of cutting devices, which can produce a lot of heat, and be starting points for fires.
Fire, is therefore, a danger that workers and others on a site need to be constantly aware of. Construction fire safety has to start with taking constant precautions that must prevent fire accidents from happening. A fire risk assessment should be carried out to assess fire risks at your construction site, whether it’s a fire risk assessment in Kent or a fire risk assessment in London. There has to be a constant awareness of conditions that can lead to fire, and actions must always be taken to see that these conditions never arise. Inflammable materials must be stored separately and in places that have a lot of fire safety equipment around, so that any fires can be tackled immediately. Access to these materials must be authorized and allowed only to people trained to use the material safely.
It can always help construction fire safety, if the site has a fire protection plan in place. All workers and other staff on sites must be aware of fire drills and emergency measures to be taken in case of fire. This must include swift evacuation, the creation of safety zones, setting off alarms, basic operation of fire extinguishers, notifying people and controlling the fire till the fire brigade arrives. Construction sites need to have fire alarms, fire extinguishers, fire hoses and dedicated tanks and pumps to use in case of fire. The configuration of a construction site is constantly changing, both vertically and horizontally, and it has to be always ensured that fire safety equipment is always moved to required locations, and all people made aware of these changes.
Signage is a very important part of safety on a construction project, and more so for protection from fire. Dangerous areas must be properly cordoned off, and adequate warning signs in place to warn people of dangers. Most electrical systems on construction sites are temporary and have to constantly move from place to place. This requires a lot of importance to be given to such temporary wiring and always ensuring that all connections are made with shielded cables and have all protection devices, which can help to prevent overload, that can lead to heating and fire.
Potential fire hazards on a construction site must be constantly assessed, as new material is always arriving. Temporary measures to control sparks, and other heat from machinery use, must be taken, to see that they never cause fire. Most construction sites ban smoking and this must be very strictly enforced. Care must be taken as part of construction fire safety procedures, to see that important documents are kept in fireproof vaults, or even better stored away from the site. All contractors and their men, must be educated on fire safety, and be part of any fire protection plan or procedures.
Housekeeping is a very important aspect of a well-run site, and this can go a long way in reducing the chances of fire breaking out. Debris, especially wood shavings, scraps of paper, must be constantly removed and disposed of, so that they no more remain a potential fire hazard. Construction sites are by nature places where a far greater attention has to be paid to safety, especially from fire.