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How Can Construction Site Fires Affect The Health of the Public?

A fire which breaks out on a construction site will usually only be a risk to the workers and visitors on the site at the time. However there may be times when construction site fires have the potential to kill or injure members of the public who are situated outside of the site boundaries. Site managers not only have a responsibility for the health and safety of those on site, but also to members of the public who could have their health affected by the site.

The most obvious danger is the spread of fire. Whilst it may not be much of an issue if the works are taking place on a site which is in a remote location with no surrounding buildings, a large number of construction activities take place in built up areas where other buildings may be located close by or even adjoining the premises which is being worked on. In these situations it will not take much for the fire to spread, particularly if there is a strong wind which blows the fire in that direction.

Fires can also lead to explosions such as gas explosions which can damage or destroy nearby buildings. If this were to happen, the falling roof timbers and collapsing walls can easily kill or severely injure the occupants of those buildings.

Although the consequences of an explosion can be extremely damaging, it will usually only affect those buildings which are in close proximity to the site. A more wide reaching effect and so a danger with the potential to affect the health of a much greater number of people are fires which occur on sites which have hazardous chemicals or substances present. These can escape into the atmosphere or nearby watercourses and cause illness or be fatal to people living in a large radius from the site, sometimes incorporating whole towns which may need to be evacuated. For example, a fire at a construction works building a second reactor at a nuclear power station could cause damage to the first reactor, which may have serious repercussions for anyone situated for miles around.

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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