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Do you know your closest fire exit when you enter a building? General fire safety precautions include means of escape and fire alarms. In the construction industry however, strict measures are required due to the greater number of fire hazards present on site.

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The destructive power of fire can damage or destroy equipment, stock and buildings and in more catastrophic situations can cause serious injuries or death. Even minor fires can cause significant delays to site operations impacting on costs and efficiency.

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 on construction sites requires that ‘a contractor must plan, manage and monitor construction work carried out either by the contractor or by workers under the contractor’s control, to ensure that, so far as is reasonably practicable, it is carried out without risks to health and safety’. This of course includes fire risks.

Health, safety and wellbeing is BRE’s top priority, and our digital tool YellowJacket can help identify emerging health and safety trends through logging, monitoring and reporting previous incidents or near misses and observations which have been seen on-site and their resultant corrective actions.

Here are 5 ways to help prevent fire events occurring in your workplace:

     1. Tracking combustible material

It is very common to accumulate combustible material on site elsewhere than in designated locations – this is particularly problematic on stairs and blocking exit routes. Spotting this and relocating these materials can help avoid getting trapped by a fire with no route to escape.

     2. Keeping escape routes clear

Make sure escape routes are not blocked; smoke can rapidly decrease visibility, making it harder to see any items in the way of escape routes – which can result in slower evacuations and injury. Tracking trip hazards and the correct snagging of wiring upon the exit routes can help manage this.

     3. Auditing the location of vital systems

Manual call points, signage and extinguishers and all vital systems on site need to be periodically reviewed to ensure they are accessible, easy to identify and close to the stage of construction so they can be  quickly found and accessed in the case of a fire.

     4. Staff management

The management of site employees is imperative. The vast majority of fires directly or indirectly result from the actions of staff taken upon the site. Risk behaviours such as smoking on site, undertaking unauthorised hot works or blocking exit routes should be monitored to lower the risk of a fire.

     5. Hot works

Hot works are the cause of a significant proportion of site fires. Although hot work permits are designed to limit the risk from such events, it is still common to find hot works being undertaken in areas that have not been cleared of combustible materials correctly, and have not had the exit routes checked and cleared of trip hazards prior to the commencement of the work. It is important to review the area, log any potential risks and take action as necessary before undertaking any work.

How can YellowJacket help you manage fire risks issues?

YJ-MobileObsvYellowJacket is a digital tool that allows users to easily log health and safety observations on their phone or similar device at the time that notice an issue to be reported – like spotting items blocking a fire exit. Being able to immediately log issues in this manner will increase the likelihood of items being logged and increase the accuracy of the logging.

Users can keep track of observations and action them before incidents take place – whilst identifying trends, common occurrences and problem areas on the site which may need further investigation and planning. For each of the above issues, YellowJacket can be used to keep track of observations around fire safety and identifying trends that can help you minimise risk or future fires.

Need more info?

Talk to our specialists today to find out how our tool can help you, through yellowjacket@bre.co.uk or by calling 03330 147878.

Jo Goodwin
About the Author
Marketing Manager for BRE SMARTWaste and BRE YellowJacket. Writing about construction waste and waste management, as well as health, safety and wellbeing for the built environment and beyond.

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