Toolbox Talk: Five Fire Prevention Tips at Work

Toolbox Talk: Five Fire Prevention Tips at Work

Sparks fly, combustibles go boom, and workers flee the scene with smoldering clothing or materials. This sounds like the perfect script for a Halloween movie. Only it is all too real of a possibility when you are working on construction sites with dangerous chemicals, faulty wiring or haphazard fire safety training. Nobody wants to be caught on fire when trying to earn a living at a construction site. Here are five ways to prevent fires at work.


The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), through the CDC, has compiled a list of fire prevention measures for construction work. One of the first requirements is to have firefighting gear on hand. You should have firefighting equipment (i.e., fire extinguishers and water drums, less than 100 feet away from the jobsite). These items should be easily identifiable and regularly checked for damage or water loss. These items will help you to prevent sparks from spreading into fire walls.


The last thing contractors want to do when working on a construction site is to clean up the place. However, layers of combustible dust, mountains of dry wood, and cans of half-used paint are ideal snacks for a greedy fire. Sweep up, straighten up, and don’t stop there. Keep the weeds and grass at bay, so they don’t help any fire to spread around the construction site.


As the warm weather flees the scene, you can bet that your workers will want to have a heater or two on the worksite. Herein lies the hazard. Heating devices might keep your workers from getting frosty, but they are also a great danger in terms of fire prevention and safety. Choose devices that are made for construction sites, which include non-toppling units with safety shields, to protect workers from brushing up and burning their clothing.


Never have an open fire on a worksite. Make the worksite a no smoking zone—free of matches and lighters. By not bringing open flames into your workplace, you are helping to enhance the fire prevention abilities of your workers. This also means no burning of construction materials, trash or other items on the construction site. Most cities and states have fire ordinances that prevent this as well, so make sure not to break the law.


Electrically grounded fire hazards cannot be taken lightly. Sparks can fly, with electricity zipping through the bodies of your workers in seconds, and may lead to explosions that catch everything on fire. Don’t wait for the worst to happen—arm your crew with knowledge through NFPA 70E training. Define and highlight the Electrical Safety Standard with some professional training.