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CONSTRUCTION PROJECT FIRE SAFETY IN FOCUS

HSE issue reminder on early adoption of effective fire precautions

The reminder urges construction project teams to consider fire at the early stages of a construction project, adding that:

“Sometimes site conditions will be so difficult that alternative designs/ construction methods and materials should be considered at the outset.”

Construction site fires are relatively rare, but often devastating and potentially fatal, not just to those on site but to neighbours too.

Preventing and limiting the effect of a construction site fire depends on good initial design and planning and managing the risk throughout the build.”

Construction dutyholders are legally required under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and the Regulatory Reform Order /Fire Scotland Act 2005 to identify the risks of fire and manage the key issues of general site fire safety. The key issues are:

1. Risk assessment

2. Means of escape

3. Means of giving warning

4. Means of fighting fire

Certain building types are more vulnerable to fire during the construction phase when the final building regulation requirements are not yet in place, for example high-rise construction and timber frame construction. Refurbishment projects can also present a higher fire risk. HSE expects higher additional precautions to be taken on sites that present a higher risk of fire.

All in supply chain should actively communicate risks

Where the lives of people in adjacent properties are at risk from a fire on a construction site, an off the site assessment of the spread of fire to neighbouring buildings should be considered. The Structural Timber Association (formerly the UK Timber Frame Association) has free downloads of design guides on separating distances if you are considering building in timber frame.

All dutyholders in the supply chain should be actively communicating risks and controls of fire during the construction phase. Avoiding process fire hazards involves storing combustible materials safely away from sources of ignition. Further guidance for clients, designers and those managing and carrying out construction work involving significant fire risks can be found at HSG 168 Fire Safety in Construction.

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