There is no doubt that workplace fires can result in serious property damage, injuries and even death. Fires are more common on residential construction jobsites than many builders think. Working with hazardous materials, using temporary heating devices, and performing hot work can lead to dangerous and costly fires.
Which OSHA standards address fire protection and prevention in construction?
29 CFR Part 1926, Subpart F, contains general fire protection and prevention requirements for construction work.
Fire Protection and Prevention Program
Employers are responsible for the development and maintenance of an effective fire protection and prevention program at the jobsite throughout all phases of the construction, repair, alteration or demolition work. The employer must ensure the availability of fire protection and suppression equipment as required by Subpart F. The procedures to implement a program include:
- Providing at least one 2A (or better) fire extinguisher for each house under construction
- Keeping access to fire extinguishers clear
- Training workers how to operate fire extinguishers
- Inspecting fire extinguishers periodically
- Developing a system to notify employees of a fire onsite
- Posting fire notification procedures where employees can find them if needed
Portable fire extinguishers must be inspected periodically and maintained in accordance with Maintenance and Use of Portable Fire Extinguishers, NFPA No.10A-1970.
Potential Ignition Sources
The residential construction industry works with a variety of materials and products that are potential ignition sources. Be sure workers know what materials are flammable and what precautions they need to take to avoid fires on the jobsite. Materials likely to be fire hazards include, gasoline, "liquid nails" or similar adhesives, oils, paints, solvents (cleaners), kerosene, paint stripper, sealants and pipe joint compound.