Countless structures throughout the country are successfully built every year, with thousands under construction at any given time. While fires can occur on construction sites, they are rare. However, it’s vital to be aware of the causes of fires and how to prevent and minimize any hazards.

Risk management policies and procedures have continually improved over time, but there are still opportunities for fires to spread beyond control. The establishment and maintenance of safe conditions of work are the responsibility of management, and it is required that each employee follows the prescribed safety methods of work.

According to the OSHA, a building site must have a fire protection program that is incorporated into its health and safety plan. This plan should include a sufficient number of emergency exits and routes that are kept clear from obstruction, fire detection, alarm systems, and thorough instructions for employees to correctly use fire-fighting equipment.

Construction sites can be dangerous and unsafe environments without an adequate plan – fire protection is every worker’s responsibility, and every fire hazard should be reported immediately to a supervisor. Where necessary, employees should wear heat and flame resistant clothing such as what can be found at

What causes fires on construction sites and how can these risks be mitigated? 

Smoking is a leading cause of the fire on construction sites and is therefore often prohibited to workers. It should only be allowed at designated smoking areas that are provided away from the main construction site and the surrounding site offices.

Temporary lighting and lamps that are installed closely to combustible items can be another leading factor to cause a fire to spread. Temporary lighting that is not allowed to cool, or broken lamp units that are exposed to hot surfaces can also be hazardous. To prevent lightning units from becoming dislodged and ignited, ensure that they are secured away from any combustible materials. Light units are required to be inspected frequently and broken units should be removed immediately.

Hot work that is generated during construction, such as through welding, is known to be another main source of ignition risk. This is because it frequently happens within multiple areas throughout the building around hazards such as combustible debris, flammable gases, and liquids,  waste material, as well as a fire-retardant scaffold and temporary covering materials. Hot work permits are needed in this instance to prevent fires or explosions by detailing the work that is being carried out, how and when it is to be done, and the precautions that are being taken.

Similar to domestic fires, electrical faults from fixed electrical systems and portable equipment can be another leading cause of fires on construction sites. Portable heaters should only be allowed where necessary and regarded as ‘hot work’ if they are permitted to use. Subsequently, all electrical installations are required to be tested, inspected, and commissioned before use. Additionally, all plant equipment and vehicles should be properly operated and maintained in order to further reduce any fire hazards.