There are many hazards associated with construction sites, but fire can be one of the most devastating. Not only can a fire cause serious injury and even death, it can also result in thousands of pounds of damage and do irreparable harm to your professional reputation. Here are some absolute essentials every construction site foreman and worker should know.
What does the law say?
Fire safety on construction sites is governed by The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, usually referred to as the FSO. One of the main requirements of the FSO is that each site must have a designated ‘responsible person’ whose job it is to carry out a risk assessment and then take appropriate action to minimise the risk from fire.
The ‘responsible person’ will usually be main contractor or site foreman and they should identify anything on site with the potential to cause a fire, including making note of possible sources of ignition and fuel. They should then establish means of raising the alarm in the event of a fire and make sure everyone on site knows where appropriate escapes routes can be found. It is also down to the responsible person to identify which kinds of fires might occur on site and to provide appropriate fire-fighting equipment.
What happens if you get it wrong?
In general, your local fire and rescue authority are responsible for enforcing the FSO (although in some cases the Health and Safety Executive or other government appointed authority may take this role). It is their job to carry out inspections and make recommendations to make sure construction sites are being operated in a safe way that minimises the risk of fire. If the enforcing authority are unhappy with the levels of fire safety at your site, they may issue one of three types of notice:
Alterations Notice – If the enforcing authority find any fire hazards on your site they will issue an alterations notice specifying the hazards identified and the steps that need to me taken to address these hazards. It is up to the responsible person to see that the required actions are carried out.
Enforcement Notice – if the responsible person fails to carry out the enforcing authorities recommendations, the authority may then issue an enforcement notice. This will require the previously specified work to be carried out by a set date (which must be a minimum of 28 days from the time the notice is issued).
Prohibition Notice – The enforcing authority may also issue a prohibition notice forbidding the use of the site for specific purposes e.g. as a residential dwelling, until their recommended alterations have been made. This may, however, allow the site to be used legally for different purposes.
Failure to comply with any of these notices is a criminal offence and can result in a large fine. These notices become a matter of public record and can severely damage the reputation of your company. Many companies ask about prohibition and enforcement notices as part of the tendering process, so having one on your record could cost you future work.
Avoiding Fire Safety Issues
The best way to avoid any issues with fire safety on your site is by having the appropriate training. We offer construction site fire training courses which will give you the knowledge and confidence to work safely on site and stay within the law. Call today on 0117 957 3039 or use our online contact form to find out more or to book a course.