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Contents
Page last reviewed: 03/18/2009
Highlights
  • Chibbaro, Mat, P.E. Construction Fire Safety: Phase by Phase. Fire Protection Engineering. 2009;41(Winter):8-19.
  • Evacuation Plans and Procedures. OSHA eTool. Helps small, low-hazard service or retail businesses implement an emergency action plan, and comply with OSHA's emergency-related standards. Includes information on portable fire extinguishers, fire prevention plans, and fire detection systems.
    • Portable Fire Extinguishers. Addresses risk assessment, fire extinguisher basics, use, placement and spacing, hydrostatic testing and OSHA requirements.
  • Shipyard Employment. OSHA eTool. Shipyard work has traditionally been hazardous, with an injury-accident rate more than twice that of construction and general industry.
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Fire Safety

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Charts, 1992-2007 [440 KB PDF, 17 pages], fires and explosions accounted for 3% of workplace fatalities in 2007. This page provides valuable reference materials for prevention of fire-related injuries in all workplaces.

Fire safety is addressed in specific standards for recordkeeping, the general industry, shipyard employment, marine terminals, longshoring, gear certification, and the construction industry.

Standards

This section highlights OSHA standards, the Regulatory Agenda (a list of actions being taken with regard to OSHA standards), directives (instructions for compliance officers), and national consensus standards related to fire safety.

OSHA

Note: Twenty-five states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans and have adopted their own standards and enforcement policies. For the most part, these States adopt standards that are identical to Federal OSHA. However, some States have adopted different standards applicable to this topic or may have different enforcement policies.

Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illness (29 CFR 1904)

General Industry (29 CFR 1910)

Shipyard Employment (29 CFR 1915)

Marine Terminals (29 CFR 1917)

Longshoring (29 CFR 1918)

Gear Certification (29 CFR 1919)

For additional information on OSHA standards for Shipyard Employment, Marine Terminals, and Longshoring, see the OSHA Assistance for the Maritime Industry Page.

Construction Industry (29 CFR 1926)

Directives

National Consensus

Note: These are NOT OSHA regulations. However, they do provide guidance from their originating organizations related to worker protection.

International Code Council (ICC)

  • About ICC: Introduction to the ICC. Includes information about the ICC which initiated a request for recognition of its codes by OSHA in May of 2004, with submission of a document in November of 2005 that details a section by section comparison and analysis of the IBC with OSHA's rules in Subpart E. After review of that document OSHA made a preliminary finding, as noted in an ANPRM, recognizing the IBC and IFC as compliant with the OSHA requirements.
    • Code Development. Includes information about the code development cycle, the National Institute of Standard's (NIST) World Trade Center Recommendations, disaster response, comparison of the International Building Code (IBC) with NFPA 5000, the Building Construction and Safety Code, as well as ICC policies and procedures.

National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA)

  • Codes & Standards. Develops, publishes, and disseminates more than 300 consensus codes and standards intended to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other risks. Virtually every building, process, service, design, and installation in society today is affected by NFPA documents.
    • 1, Uniform Fire Code
    • 101, Life Safety Code
    • 241, Standard for Safeguarding Construction, Alteration, and Demolition Operations
    • 5000, Building Construction and Safety Code

Consensus Standards and the General Duty Clause

Using Consensus standards to support a 5(a)(1) Citation:

A consensus standard can be used to show "industry recognition" of a hazard. However, the hazard must be recognized in the employers' industry, not an industry other than the employers' industry.

Section 5(a)(1):

  • is not used to enforce "should" standards.
  • is not used to required abatement methods not required by a specific standard.
  • is not normally used to cover categories of hazards exempted by an OSHA standard.

Background

Section 5(a)(1):

  • Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employee;  
  • The general duty provisions can only be used where there is no standard that applies to the particular hazard involved.

Evaluation of Potential 5(a)(1) situations:

  • Employer failed to keep workplace free of hazards to which employees of that employer were exposed.
    • Must involve a serious hazard and employee exposure.
    • Does not specify a particular abatement method - only that the employer keeps the workplace free of serious hazards by any feasible and effective means.
    • The hazard must be reasonably foreseeable.
  • The hazard was recognized.
    • Industry recognition
    • Employer recognition
    • Common-sense recognition
  • The hazard caused or was likely to cause death or serious physical harm.
  • Feasible means to correct the hazard were available.

Hazards and Possible Solutions

Fire safety becomes everyone's job at a worksite. Employers should train workers about fire hazards in the workplace and about what to do in a fire emergency. This plan should outline the assignments of key personnel in the event of a fire and provide an evacuation plan for workers on the site. In the construction industry, a "fire plan" should be set up prior to beginning any demolition job. The following references aid in recognizing and evaluating hazards and possible solutions in the workplace.

General

Construction

  • OSHA Technical Manual (OTM). OSHA Directive TED 01-00-015 [TED 1-0.15A], (1999, January 20). Includes information on fire safety.
    • Preparatory Operations. Contains a section on fire protection and prevention for construction/demolition activities.

  • Fire and Explosions. Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety & Health (elcosh). Provides a list of construction-related fire safety resources.

  • For additional information on hazards and possible solutions, see OSHA's Safety and Health Topics Pages on:

Additional Information

Training

Other Resources

  • Working Outdoors in Warm Climates [74 KB PDF*, 2 pages]. OSHA Fact Sheet, (2005, September).

  • National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS). United States Fire Administration (USFA). Includes links to reports, software for reporting fires, fire statistics and training materials.

  • Engineering Laboratory. National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST). Studies building materials; computer-integrated construction practices; fire science and fire safety engineering; and structural, mechanical, and environmental engineering. Products of the laboratory's research include measurements and test methods, performance criteria, and technical data that supports innovations by industry and are incorporated into building and fire standards and codes.
    • Fire on the Web. Provides links to fire related software, experimental fire data and mpeg/quick time movies of fire tests that can be downloaded and/or viewed with a web browser.

Accessibility Assistance: Contact the OSHA Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 693-2300 for assistance accessing PDF and ZIP materials.

*These files are provided for downloading.