Construction sites are more prone to fire hazards because of the materials that are used in construction. The existence of combustible materials such as wood, cardboard, plastic, and paper can lead to an explosion if there is a spark from an electrical source or a flame source such as welding equipment or open flames.
Without proper fire safety planning, construction sites are at risk of suffering devastating property damage and even human loss from fires that could have been prevented. By taking preventative measures such as implementing appropriate monitoring procedures, these risks can be significantly reduced.
What fire risks do construction workers face?
Construction workers are at a higher risk of fire compared to other industries. Electrical hazards and gas leaks are some of the common causes of construction site fires. Hazards at construction sites are also due to hot materials (such as welding), dust clouds, grease fires, or falling objects such as metal shavings and sawdust.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a standard that requires employers to provide training in fire prevention and control for all workers. The training must include the following:
- How to recognize fire hazards in the workplace
- What to do in case of a fire
- How to use portable fire extinguishers safely
- Understanding the hazards of fire
How can we make construction sites safer?
Construction site safety is one of the important aspects of construction management. A construction manager is responsible for multiple aspects of the construction site, focusing on worker safety like:
- Ensuring that fire alarms and extinguishers are in good working order and are accessible.
- Assessing if display signs explain what to do in an emergency.
- Making sure all fire exits are clear and accessible for servicing.
- Perform periodic site inspections and fire assessments.
- Building a functional and comprehensive fire safety plan and keeping it up to date.
What is a construction site fire safety plan?
A construction site fire safety plan is a document that describes the fire safety measures that will be implemented in a project. It is used to ensure that these measures are implemented by the requirements of the building code.
The purpose of having an appropriate plan before starting work on an existing building or structure is so that there’s no confusion about who’s responsible for what during construction, who has authority over which aspects of the project (e.g., electrical), and what equipment needs to be maintained at each stage based on their location within the space (e.g., elevator maintenance).
In addition to these benefits, a construction site fire safety plan is required by the local fire department. In the event of a fire, they must know what measures have been taken to ensure their safety and the safety of others in the area. This knowledge can help them make decisions quickly during an emergency so that everyone involved knows what to do and when.
How digital fire safety plans enable construction managers?
Digital fire safety plans are the perfect solution for construction managers and construction project owners looking to keep their team informed and safe.
With a digital fire safety platform like PlanRadar, construction managers and construction project owners can quickly distribute the fire safety plan, monitor changes, and ensure that everyone is up-to-date on the latest fire safety policies and practices.
Digital fire safety plans also make it easier for construction teams to audit construction sites quickly, allowing them to address any issues that may arise. By using digital fire safety plans, construction teams can ensure construction projects are safe and compliant with the latest fire safety codes.
What are the important aspects of a construction fire safety plan?
A construction fire safety plan is an essential part of a site safety management plan. It should be updated and reviewed at regular intervals, perhaps once a year. It’s also important to train the staff in what needs to be done in case of an emergency.
Following are some of the critical parts of a fire safety plan:
- Fire risk assessment.
- Fire evacuation plan.
- Emergency preparedness plan (including action to take in case of emergency).
- Emergency services access plan.
What should be covered in a construction site fire risk assessment?
A construction site fire risk assessment is the process of identifying, assessing, and controlling all the sources of fire risk on a project. It can be undertaken by either the employer, contractor or both.
It’s important to remember that this is not just about what happens if there is a fire. Not only that, but it also covers how to prepare for one – how will the workers respond? Where are the risks at the construction site, and who will manage them? How can we reduce those risks further, so we can avoid an incident altogether?
The key questions that need answers when undertaking such an assessment include:
- What is the current level of risk in construction projects?
- Where are those risks located on the construction site?
- How could they be reduced further with less effort than before (e.g., through better training)?
- What are the consequences of not reducing the risk further, and how bad would they be?
- How can we control these risks, so they don’t happen in the first place?
- Who will manage those risks effectively?
What should be covered in a construction fire evacuation plan?
A construction fire evacuation plan should be written and kept on-site for easy access. It should include details about the emergency services available in the area, routes to use when evacuating people, and other information that will be useful at the time of an emergency. The plan should also cover what actions need to be taken in case of a fire (for example, what needs to be done with flammable materials).
A typical fire evacuation plan should:
- Identify the building and its layout.
- Outline the routes to be used for evacuation.
- Identify the assembly areas.
- Give directions on what to do in case of an emergency.
- Provide instructions on what to do during a fire.
Establishing fire safety protocols and ensuring adherence is a critical part of construction management. Project owners and managers need to be aware of all aspects related to safety when it comes to their sites.
Construction managers need to make sure that their employees are trained on how to handle fire-related emergencies, ensure that fire evacuation plans provide adequate instructions on how to help evacuate people, and should have an updated fire safety plan that provides instructions on what to do after a fire.
Looking to get started with fire safety planning for your construction sites? You can start your 30-day free PlanRadar trial here.