New guidance on fire safety in construction

The British Health and Safety Executive has published revised guidance on "Fire
Safety in Construction".

Each year there are thousands of fires on construction sites, potentially
putting the lives of workers and members of the public at risk. The new
guidance, freely available on HSE's website, is about preventing fires from
starting and ensuring people's safety if they do.

Relevant to all construction projects, including small refurbishment sites, the
guidance is aimed at all those with a role for developing and managing
construction sites, including clients and designers. Much of what is contained
in the guidance is not new, but the sections covering multi-storey buildings
and high risk building such as timber frame have been strengthened to include
lessons learned from recent fires.

The guidance clearly explains how all those involved in construction projects
can comply with their legal duties relating to fire risks.

Recently there have been some very large fires affecting sites involving timber
frame construction. The guidance contains new and detailed guidance on the fire
risks and precautions which should be considered from the earliest stages of
such a project. The guidance asks that clients and designers consider
carefully the specific site, location and development and the fire risks it
poses to those on site and neighbouring properties and ensure those risks are

Fire safety should be a key consideration on all construction sites,
irrespective of size or the duration of the project. The combination of
high-risk activities, such as hot work, with circumstances where fires can
spread quickly and means of escape maybe difficult, can make them deadly.

Philip White, HSE Chief Inspector of Construction, said:

"At worst, fires can and do kill. They can also badly injure and cause serious
human suffering and financial loss. Preventing them must be a priority on any
building project.

"We have updated the guidance to take account of changes in the law and recent
fires on construction sites. It includes new information on higher risk
building such as timber frame and multi storey construction and outlines the
extra precautions which need to be taken with these.

"Our inspectors would prefer to offer advice but if lives and livelihoods are
at risk they will not hesitate to take enforcement action."

More information: - Source: Health and Safety Executive