A fire in the workplace is one of the most dangerous situations a worker can face. While the risk of a fire is present in every work area, construction sites are particularly susceptible. Unlike many completed buildings, construction sites frequently have high concentrations of combustible materials, no fire suppression systems, and building openings that allow wind to accelerate the spread of a fire. Because of this increased risk, additional precautions need to be taken to prevent fires from starting and spreading.
Control Ignition Sources
A fire cannot start without a source of ignition. To control the risk of fire at your jobsite, you must control all potential sources of ignition. Sources of ignition could include:
- Smoking – Smoke only in designated areas, discard cigarette butts properly, and avoid smoking near flammable or combustible materials such as propane, acetylene, gasoline, paints, and lumber.
- Electrical Equipment – Check extension cords for damage each day before using them. Do not overload electrical outlets. Keep flammable and combustible materials away from electrical equipment.
- Hot Work – Follow your company’s hot work procedures to control the fire hazards associated with welding, cutting, soldering, and brazing operations.
- Temporary Heating Equipment – Keep heating equipment away from flammable and combustible materials. Turn off temporary heating equipment whenever it is going to be left unattended.
If a fire does start, you can minimize the damage it causes with a timely and effective response. Make sure you know what to do in the event of a fire.
- Start by learning some basic facts about your jobsite. Get the jobsite address and write it down so you can direct first responders to your location in the event of an emergency. Ask about the emergency evacuation plan for the jobsite, and learn the evacuation route out of your area. If you move to a different area of the jobsite, learn the evacuation route from that area before you resume work.
- Next, learn about your jobsite’s procedures for fire response, including whether you are expected to operate a fire extinguisher in the event of a fire. If you are given this responsibility, you need to receive training in fire extinguisher use, know where the nearest fire extinguisher is located, and understand the procedures governing when to attempt to extinguish a fire and when to evacuate the area.
- Finally, keep a few fire safety tips in mind: If you hear a fire alarm, evacuate immediately. Do not assume it is a drill. When evacuating, leave everything behind. You will not want to be slowed down by carrying tools or equipment. Stay low to the ground to avoid smoke inhalation. Finally, do not re-enter the building until instructed to do so by the fire department.
Source: Texas Mutual Insurance Company