Fire remains the most serious safety and commercial risk with approximately 4,000 fires and 700 people suffering serious burns on UK construction sites each year. The majority of fires can be prevented by designing out risks, taking simple precautions and by adopting safe working practices.
Legal & Enforcement Responsibilities
Several pieces of legislation govern fire safety for construction activities and construction sites, with the main health and safety requirements during construction works, including fire safety, provided by the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.
Other legislation covering fire safety includes:-
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RR0) in England and Wales;
The Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 (FSA)
The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR)
Fire Safety (Employee's Capabilities) (England) Regulations 2010. (These regulations apply in England only. They require that employers must take account of an employees capabilities as regards fire safety in entrusting tasks to them.)
Crackdown on construction site fire safety by HSE
02 September 2010
Almost 230 notices have been served in cases involving fire hazards on constructions sites in 2009/2010, according to figures obtained from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
In the year 1 April 2009-31 March 2010, 229 prohibition notices or improvement notices were served, compared to 98 in the previous 12-month period.
This year so far, 114 notices have been served since 1 April.
“We will ensure that fire precautions – both process and general fire precautions – are in place,” states the HSE construction division’s plan of work for 2010/11.”Particular attention will be given to fire precautions on timber frame structures, and multi-storey or part occupied premises.”
The figures came in advance of the expected publication of a revised guide, Fire In Construction (HSG 168) on 1 October 2010. The revision of the guidance follows two recent major timber frame fires in London.
Hotel group pays out £127,000 for 'substantial risks'
A hotel group has paid out more than £127,000 after a judge ruled that guests at a 160-capacity luxury hotel in Cheshire had been put at 'substantial risk'. The failures at the Belfry House Hotel, which is situated in Wilmslow, resulted in owners Hallmark Hotel Group pleaded guilty to three serious breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order.
Firefighters first identified the problems during a routine visit in 11 April 2008. The visit was carried out under the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 to obtain information needed to fight a fire on the premises, should one occur.
Specialist fire safety inspectors from Cheshire Fire and Rescue’s Community Fire Protection Department subsequently visited the hotel, which was undergoing major renovations.
Numerous failings were identified, including the fire alarm not working, breaches in fire-resisting walls, an inadequate fire risk assessment, poor staff training and conflicting safety signage. In addition, there was not a single working fire alarm on the third floor of the building, while faulty smoke detectors and substandard fire escape routes were found on other floors.
A prohibition notice was served on the hotel that day, since the deficiencies posed a very real threat to guests, staff and contractors. The notice was withdrawn four days later following remedial fire alarm work and the implementation of new procedures, as well as a new fire risk assessment being in place.
Judge Elgin Edwards told the court: ‘For people who run hotels, fire security is particularly important. This company carried on trading and taking guests when quite clearly the guests were put at substantial risk.’
Hallmark Hotel Group was fined £25,000 for each of the three offences and ordered to pay costs of £52,585 to Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service