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The Dangers of Fire in the Workplace and Construction Sites

Every firm or organisation has to comply by law to general fire safety regulations, particularly when on construction sites. There will need to be a designated fire safety officer who must regularly check and assess if the workplace is a safe environment in which to operate.

Being Responsible for Health and Safety is a Significant Undertaking

This responsible person will often be the main contractor who is on site and in control. The health and safety rep will need to check that fire exits are not blocked or restricted. This is an ongoing task, as one day everything will be clear, and suddenly a delivery arrives and the boxes, items or pallets can be temporarily left in an unsafe position in front of the fire exit.

Fire Risk Assessment

The risk assessment involves determining the potential sources of ignition, which items could burn and who would be at risk should a fire break out. A record must be kept of all the risks and the action plan to reduce that risk.

Means of Escape in an Emergency

A fire marshall and the health and safety officer should always monitor the means of escape in the event of a fire. What are the best routes and are there any alternative routes employees could take?

A company should look to keep fire exits and fire escape routes clear at all times. Many warehouses and construction sites have a permanent metal railing on the side of the fire escape route, which prevents boxes, pallets or other obstructions from being left in the front of the doors.

Emergency Assembly Points

The assembly points are also important considerations when dealing with workplace safety. Important questions which employees need to know the answers to include:

  • Do you know where the assembly point is?
  • Do you know what the emergency number on site is (if different to 999)?
  • Can you name the fire marshall?
  • From your current workplace and desk location, which route would you take in the event of a fire?

Fire Alarms

Fire alarms should always be tested at least once per week. Employees must all be informed of the day and time when the regular test takes place. This should be kept at the same time and day of the week to prevent confusion.

Besides the main priority of protecting the health and safety of people, fires should also be prevented because they can devastate large sections of a workplace and result in significant financial costs to put right, not to mention the disruption to normal operations that will also ensue in the weeks and months afterwards. Whilst the company may be covered by their insurance for the actual damage caused by the fire, they are highly unlikely to have any insurance policy in place which also covers the loss of trading and the expense of putting temporary solutions into effect to overcome any areas/equipment which is out of action because of the fire.

Selected Courses

Please see below for a selection of health and safety courses and qualifications which you may be interested in:

NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety is the flagship NEBOSH qualification, and is the first UK vocational qualification to be developed specifically for health and safety professionals.

The NEBOSH National Diploma provides the core health and safety knowledge (transferable across industry, commerce and the public sector) which, combined with understanding and appropriate application, underpins the competent performance of an occupational health and safety practitioner.

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NEBOSH National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH General Certificate is one of the most popular and widely-held health and safety qualifications in the UK. It is intended to be taken by managers, supervisors and any other employees who require an understanding of general health and safety issues.

The NEBOSH General Certificate covers the main legal requirements for health and safety in the UK, along with the identification and control of workplace hazards, and the practical application of this knowledge. The general content of the NEBOSH General Certificate syllabus means it is suitable and relevant for those working in virtually any industry, and is often used as a solid foundation for those going on to further study and specialising in a particular area such as construction site health and safety or fire safety.

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IOSH Managing Safely Course

The IOSH Managing Safely course is designed for managers and supervisors of organisations in virtually all industry sectors, in order to give them all they need to know to effectively manage health and safety in the workplace.

Recently updated, the new high impact programme covers key health and safety issues, and includes references to international case studies.

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CITB Site Management SMSTS Course

The Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) is one of the most popular health and safety training courses, and is intended for construction site managers, project managers and senior supervisors, as well as proprietors of smaller companies.

Client-based personnel would also benefit from attending the SMSTS course.

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CITB Health and Safety Awareness Course

This course is for those who have entered, or are about to enter, the construction and civil engineering industry as a member of the workforce to help them understand the potential hazards that they face at work on site. It aims to provide a practical summary of health and safety, welfare and environmental health and safety issues.

The course also allows delegates to identify their individual responsibilities for looking after themselves and others, what the employer's duties are and what should be done if they think anyone's health and safety is being put at risk.

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