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Does your construction workplace manage fire hazards?

Fires in any workplace are scary and extremely dangerous. While freak accidents do happen, many times, fires in construction zones and other workplaces occur because of carelessness or a lack of attention to safety requirements. By following some basic guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, employers and employees can work together to reduce the likelihood of fires on construction sites.

First, electrical hazards are often a contributor to fires in such areas. Employers and employees should ensure that electrical equipment is used, stored and maintained in keeping with manufacturer's recommendations. Keeping areas around electrical equipment clean and free of debris is also a good idea. In a clean environment, an electrical spark is often just a short-lived spark. In an area filled with dust or debris, a spark is the beginning of a fire or explosion.

Another way to reduce the chance of fire is to appropriate manage hazardous or combustible materials at all times. Don't overstock such materials -- only keep on hand the amount that is needed for the job being done that day. Store inventory materials in a separate location from active work.

Finally, since you can't stop every possible fire, it's a good idea to maintain fire safety. Keep fire extinguishers in working order and in locations that are known and easy to reach. When working in buildings with sprinkler systems, don't block sprinklers with machinery, scaffolding or inventory. OSHA recommends 24 to 36 inches of clearance with an absolute minimum of 18 inches.

By following fire safety protocols, workers and employers can help reduce the chance of injuries in construction zones. If you are injured in a fire on the job, though, know that you also have legal rights for financial assistance with medical bills and other recovery expenses. If you are someone who is injured in a construction fire and you were not working on the job, you might have the ability to seek compensation through the personal injury process.

Source: Safety Health, "11 tips for effective workplace housekeeping," Sarah Trotto, accessed March 25, 2016

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