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 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.