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How can you prevent fire injuries on construction sites?

As an employer in the Los Angeles construction industry, you likely know that your line of work consistently ranks among the most dangerous. Crews working outside during the summertime may be exposed to even more dangers than normal, particularly from fire. The exposure of equipment and materials to the heat combined with the dry conditions can make for an especially combustible mix. Fires present the potential for devastating injuries and even death, along with the risk of liability claims alleging inadequate safety and suppression measures. Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to help protect workers from fires on construction sites.

Standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration place the responsibility on you to develop a fire protection program to cover all phases of a construction project. As part of this program, you must ensure the following:

  •          That all workers have access to reliable firefighting equipment at all times
  •          That all firefighting equipment be conspicuously located
  •          That all firefighting equipment be routinely inspected, and that any defective equipment be immediately replaced

Having the right firefighting equipment on hand requires an understanding of the different types of fires your employees may encounter on a job site. According to the fire prevention guidelines provided by the National Safety Council, fires fueled by wood, paper, cloth or plastics are most effectively extinguished using water, while those caused by flammable liquids and electrical equipment require non-conductive chemical smothering agents containing carbon dioxide or Halon. Fires involving combustible metals (titanium, magnesium, aluminum) can only be put out with specially prepared Class D extinguishing agents.

If a project warrants it, OHSA standards also require you to arrange the rapid availability of a well-trained and equipped firefighting organization.  

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