The UK Civil Engineering market is worth around £45 billion per annum. Huge companies include AMEC, Balfour Beatty, Skanska and Kier between them employ over 1 million people.
The sector creates the roads, railways, docks and bridges that form an essential part of our infrastructure. It also gives rise to a unique set of fire safety challenges. The £14 billion Crossrail project in London is creating over 26 miles of underground rail and 10 new stations. Operating massive machinery in such conditions utilizing high electrical loads and huge quantities of diesel and other flammable fuels combines with combustible building materials and challenging escape arrangements to make a potentially lethal mix.
Such challenges are integrated in training delivered for this sector by UK Fire Training
Specific regulations and guidance exist to make construction / civil engineering activities safe.
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM) also place duties on duty holders in relation to fire safety.
HSG168 Fire safety in construction provides guidance for clients, designers and those managing and carrying out construction work involving significant fire risks.
In 1992 the Fire Protection Association and the Building Employers Confederation (which later became the Construction Confederation, and is now the Contractors’ Legal Group), along with the support of other bodies, including the Association of British Insurers (ABI), London Fire Brigade and the Chief Fire Officers Association, published the first edition of the Joint Code of Practice for Fire Prevention on Construction Sites. Since then, the code has been developed and expanded and now, with the publication of the 7th edition in 2009, it has the full support of the industry.
These and other documents are taken into account in UK Fire Training courses for this sector.
The nature of civil engineering sites gives rise to a very wide range of often unique ignition sources. These include;
Smokers’ material, eg cigarettes, matches and lighters
Naked flames, eg gas- or liquid-fuelled open-flame equipment
Plant and equipment, eg fuel and vehicle exhausts;
Poor electrical installations, eg overloads, heating from bunched cables and/or damaged cable;
Hot processes/hot work, eg welding by contractors;
Light fittings and lighting equipment, eg temporary lighting, halogen lamps too close to stored products;
Electrical, gas- or oil-fired heaters (fixed or portable), room heaters in temporary office accommodation or welfare cabins;
Friction-generated heat from mechanical equipment such as disc cutters;
Spontaneous ignition and self-heating, eg oil-soaked rags, paint scrapings;
Many activities in the Civil Engineering sector require processes that can generate heat and cause a fire. These include cutting, grinding, welding and drilling. In many cases a “permit to Work” system will be put in place to manage this area of risk.
It is then vital that supervisors and operatives are provided with appropriate training to conduct Hotworks safely. Company procedures will need to be followed and forms completed to ensure that no residual risk exists during and after the work has been completed. UK Fire Training offer Supervisors and Operative level training in this area.
CIVIL ENGINEERING FIRE EXAMPLES
Holborn building collapse
One injured and 200 people cleared from area after incident near Aldwych.
Hundreds of people were cleared from an area of central London and at least one person was injured after a building collapsed at a construction site today.
Emergency services were called to Serle Street and Portugal Street in Holborn after witnesses reported hearing a "massive crash" and seeing plumes of dust.
A 56-year-old man was treated at the scene before being taken to hospital with serious head and hip injuries after the incident at around 4.15 this afternoon, police said.
John Snelgrove, who was at the scene for the London Fire Brigade, said: "When the first crews arrived they found the building, which was under refurbishment had collapsed between the fifth and second floors.
Firefighters gave first aid to an injured man on site until ambulance crews arrived and also helped police put safety cordons in place and to evacuate people from the immediate area."
The six storey building is under demolition and part of the building's structure, as well as the scaffolding surrounding it, has collapsed, the fire service said.
The collapsed building in central London (Picture: Twitter/Mary-Anne Constable)
Around 100 people were cleared from the building site and a further 100 people have been cleared from neighbouring buildings as a precaution.
Two fire engines from Soho, three fire rescue units from East Ham, Edmonton and Heston and around 31 firefighters and officers are attending.