Fire Risk Assessment Guide & Checklist for the Construction Industry
This guide has been developed to promote fire safety within the construction industry. Tailored to construction sites and building development projects (including both new builds and refurbishments), it has been specifically written to keep all employees, contractors, designers and visitors as safe as possible from the threat of fire whilst on-site.
The guide includes information on the laws surrounding fire safety and the steps necessary to conduct a thorough and legally compliant fire risk assessment. It also includes a handy checklist to make the process of a risk assessment in your construction environment as simple and stress-free as possible.
When you’re running a construction site, health and safety should be a primary and significant concern. This includes fire safety which, in England and Wales, is governed by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The Order was developed to protect people from the threat of fire whilst in commercial and public-access environments and, to ensure full legal compliance on-site, you must adhere to every aspect detailed within it.
The Order stipulates a ‘responsible person’ within your environment must take control of fire safety. In the construction industry, this is usually whoever is in charge on-site, such as the owner, manager or lead contractor. In environments where more than one person may be responsible (such as the building owner or managing agent and the construction manager) you must work together to co-ordinate fire safety plans and co-operatively reduce the risk to an acceptable level.
The ‘responsible person’ is legally accountable for ensuring every aspect of the Order is followed stringently. This means conducting a full fire risk assessment. They are also legally responsible for ensuring appropriate fire safety equipment is installed, an evacuation plan is prepared and all employees are informed and educated on fire safety procedures.
Conducting a Fire Risk Assessment – 5 Steps
According to Government advice, there are five steps involved in a fire risk assessment. This guide lists each step below, detailing what is required in each one.
It may be easier to split your construction site in to sections when undertaking a fire risk assessment (such as work areas, storage areas, staff areas, for example). You can then focus on each one individually to make the process more manageable.
#1 Identify the fire hazards
The first step of the fire risk assessment is to identify every potential fire hazard within your construction site. This means noting down all sources of ignition, fuel and oxygen.
#2 Identify people at risk
Secondly, you must identify the people at risk. This includes all employees on-site (such as workers, contractors, sub-contractors and designers), as well
anyone who may be visiting. You must pay particular attention to those more vulnerable in an emergency, such as the elderly, young children and people with a disability.
#3 Evaluate, remove and reduce the risks
Once the individual hazards have been identified, the threat of fire must be thoroughly assessed and the risk to people from that threat analysed. You must then put safety measures in place to ensure each fire risk is removed or reduced.
Part of protecting your environment from the threat of fire will involve installing fire safety equipment. This will include methods of detection (fire alarms), fire-fighting equipment (fire extinguishers, fire blankets) and fire evacuation aids (emergency lighting, safety signs). You must ensure all fire safety equipment is regularly inspected, tested and maintained.
#4 Record, plan, inform, instruct and train
If your construction environment employees more than five p
eople, the results from the risk assessment must be recorded. You should log every fire hazard identified and the measures which have been taken to remove or reduce the risk of fire.
You must also prepare an emergency evacuation plan. Fire safety signs and notices should be installed to make sure employees and visitors are aware of the procedures within your construction site. In addition, staff should be educated on fire safety. This is normally achieved through nominating members of staff to undertake professional fire safety training.
To ensure full legal compliance, your risk assessment must be reviewed regularly and you must update it whenever necessary.
To make the process of a risk assessment as simple as possible, we have devised a handy checklist. It is in line with all Government guidance and has been specifically written for environments within the construction industry.
#1 What are the fire hazards within your construction site?
- Make a note of anything within your construction site which could start a fire (such as machinery, chemicals and vehicles).
- Make a note of anything within your construction site which could burn (such as paper, wood and fabric).
#2 Who is at risk within your construction site?
- Make a note of anyone who could be at risk within your construction site, particularly those who may be more vulnerable in an emergency.
#3 How will you keep people safe within your construction site?
- Ensure fuel and heat sources are kept apart.
- Assess the risk to employees and visitors.
- Make a note of anything which could be used to start a fire deliberately.
- Ensure appliances are tested and maintained (such as machinery, electrical tools and construction vehicles).
- Install appropriate fire detection and warning equipment.
- Appoint someone who will be responsible for calling the local Fire and Rescue service.
- Install appropriate fire-fighting equipment.
- Make sure there are adequate fire escape routes from every area of your construction site.
- Make sure escape routes are obvious, signed and illuminated.
- Ensure all fire safety equipment is in full working order and regularly maintained.
- Make sure measures are in place to inform everyone who works within or visits your construction site of what to do and how to use fire safety equipment.
#4 Record, plan and train
- Remove or reduce each fire risk as far as is possible.
- Make a note of what has been done to remove or reduce these risks.
- If there are risks which can’t be removed, make a note of how you plan to deal with these risks.
- Plan a timeframe for carrying out all necessary fire safety improvements.
- Inform your workers, contractors, designers and visitors of what to do in an emergency.
- Regularly practice a fire drill and record the results.
- Ensure all employees know how to use fire extinguishers.
- Make sure all fire safety information – including what to do on discovering a fire and emergency plans and escape routes – is made available and obvious to staff and visitors. This should be in the form of obvious notices and signs placed throughout your construction site.
#5 Review and maintain your plan
- If changes are made to your construction site, your plan must be reviewed.
- If there has been, or almost been, a fire at your construction site, your plan must be reviewed.
- If work processes are changed or updated, your plan must be reviewed.
- After each fire drill, the results should be recorded and your plan updated.