Page last reviewed: 03/18/2009
- 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.
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.
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.
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)
- 1910 Subpart E, Means of egress
- 1910.35, Compliance with alternate exit-route codes
- 1910.36, Design and construction requirements for exit routes
- 1910.37, Maintenance, safeguards, and operational features for exit routes
Emergency action plans
- 1910.39, Fire prevention plans
- 1910 Subpart G, Occupational health and environmental controls
- 1910 Subpart H, Hazardous materials [related topic page]
- 1910.101, Compressed gases (general requirements)
- 1910.102, Acetylene
- 1910.103, Hydrogen
- 1910.104, Oxygen
- 1910.106, Flammable liquids
- 1910.107, Spray finishing using flammable and combustible materials
- 1910.109, Explosives and blasting agents
- 1910.110, Storage and handling of liquefied petroleum gases
- 1910.111, Storage and handling of anhydrous ammonia [related topic page]
- 1910.119, Process safety management of highly hazardous chemicals [related topic page]
- 1910.120, Hazardous waste operations and emergency response [related topic page]
- 1910 Subpart L, Fire protection
- 1910.155, Scope, application and definitions applicable to this subpart
- 1910.156, Fire brigades
- 1910.157, Portable fire extinguishers
- 1910.158, Standpipe and hose systems
- 1910.159, Automatic sprinkler systems
- 1910.160, Fixed extinguishing systems, general
- 1910.161, Fixed extinguishing systems, dry chemical
- 1910.162, Fixed extinguishing systems, gaseous agent
- 1910.163, Fixed extinguishing systems, water spray and foam
- 1910.164, Fire detection systems
1910.165, Employee alarm systems
Appendix A, Fire Protection
- Appendix B, National consensus standards
- Appendix C, Fire Protection references for further information
- Appendix D, Availability of publications incorporated by reference in section 1910.156 fire brigades
- Appendix E, Test methods for protective clothing
- 1910 Subpart N, Materials handling and storage
- 1910 Subpart Q, Welding, cutting, and brazing [related topic page]
- 1910 Subpart R, Special industries
- 1910.261, Pulp, paper, and paperboard mills [related topic page]
- 1910.263, Bakery equipment
- 1910.265, Sawmills [related topic page]
- 1910.266, Logging operations [related topic page]
- 1910.269, Electric power generation, transmission, and distribution [related topic page]
- 1910.272, Grain handling facilities [related topic page]
- 1910 Subpart Z, Toxic and hazardous substances [related topic page]
Shipyard Employment (29 CFR
- 1915 Subpart P, Fire protection [related topic page]
- 1915.501, General provisions
- 1915.502, Fire safety plan
- 1915.503, Precautions for hot work
- 1915.504, Fire watches
- 1915.505, Fire response
- 1915.506, Hazards of fixed extinguishing systems on board vessels and vessel sections
- 1915.507, Land-side fire protection systems
- 1915.508, Training
- 1915.509, Definitions applicable to this subpart
- Appendix A, Model fire safety plan (Non-Mandatory)
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
- 1926 Subpart
D, Occupational health and environmental controls
Process safety management of highly hazardous chemicals
Hazardous waste operations and emergency response
for design and construction of spray booths
1926 Subpart F, Fire protection and prevention [related topic page]
- 1926 Subpart
H, Materials handling, storage, use, and disposal
- 1926 Subpart
S, Underground construction, caissons, cofferdams, and
Compressed air. Includes a section on fire protection and prevention.
1926 Subpart T, Demolition
Note: These are NOT OSHA regulations. However, they do
provide guidance from their originating organizations related to worker
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.
- is not used to enforce "should" standards.
- is not used to required abatement methods not required by a specific
- is not normally used to cover categories of hazards exempted by an OSHA
- 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.
- Combustible Dust in Industry: Preventing and Mitigating the Effects of Fire and Explosions. OSHA Safety and Health Information Bulletin (SHIB),
(2005, July 31). Also available as a 507 KB PDF,
9 pages. Highlights hazards associated with combustible dusts;
work practices and guidelines that reduce the potential for a
combustible dust explosion, or that reduce the danger to employees if
such an explosion occurs; and training to protect employees from these
- Star ME-1 Dry Fire Sprinklers. OSHA Safety and Health Information Bulletin, (2004, January 7). Also available as a 1 MB PDF, 4 pages.
- Total Flooding Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Fire Extinguishing System
[16 KB PDF*, 3 pages]. OSHA Technical Information Bulletin, (2001, December 22).
- Fire Hazard of Polyurethane and Other Organic Foam Insulation Aboard Ships and in Construction. OSHA Hazard Information Bulletin, (1989, May 10).
- Possible Explosive and Carcinogenic Hazards to Employees Working with Dichlorobenzidine (DCB) from Inadequate Decontamination Procedures. OSHA Hazard Information Bulletin, (1987, December 24).
- Potential Hazard in Use of Water Spray for Preventing or Controlling the Ignition of Flammable Atmospheres. OSHA Hazard Information Bulletin, (1986, May 1).
- Small Business Handbook. OSHA Publication 2209-02R, (2005). Also available as a
587 KB PDF, 56 pages.
- Fire Safety in the Workplace.
OSHA Fact Sheet, (2002). Also available as a 55 KB PDF,
2 pages. Discusses how employers should train workers about fire hazards in the workplace and about what to do in a fire emergency.
- How to Plan for Workplace Emergencies and Evacuations.
OSHA Publication 3088, (Revised 2001). Also available as a 251 KB PDF,
25 pages. Includes information on fire-related emergencies.
- OSHA Technical Manual (OTM). OSHA Directive TED 01-00-015 [TED 1-0.15A],
(1999, January 20).
- Fire Safety and Prevention Tools. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC), Consumer Protection Safety Commission (CPSC), and the US Fire Administration (USFA). Provides listings of residential fire prevention materials in a one stop federal portal, FireSafety.gov, and targeting at-risk populations.
- Fire Safety. National Ag Safety Database (NASD). Lists fire safety information documents from NASD.
- For additional information on hazards and possible solutions, see OSHA's Safety and Health Topics Pages on:
- 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:
- OSHA Training Institute Course Catalog Search. OSHA. Provides a searchable database of course listings, with start and end dates.
- Construction Industry Safety and Health Outreach Program. OSHA, (1996, May). Contains three sections pertaining to fire safety:
- Fire Protection and Prevention. Includes a list of applicable definitions, and describes standards pertaining to fire protection, fire fighting, fire prevention, flammable and combustible liquids, liquefied petroleum gas, and temporary heating devices.
- Classification of Portable Fire Extinguishers. Describes qualifications of Class A, A/B, B/C, and A/B/C fire extinguishers.
- Common Fire Extinguishing Agents. Describes the advantages and disadvantages of six common fire extinguishing agents: water, carbon dioxide, dry chemical, multipurpose dry chemical, halon 1301, and halon 1211.
- Small Business Handbook. OSHA Publication 2209-02R, (2005). Also available as a 587 KB PDF, 56 pages.
Means of Egress and Fire Protection
ZIP*]. Assists trainers
conducting OSHA 10-hour General Industry outreach training for workers.
Since workers are the target audience, the material emphasizes hazard
identification, avoidance, and control - not standards. No attempt has been
made to treat the topic exhaustively.
Fire Safety. National Ag Safety Database (NASD). Provides a listing of several fire safety videos available from NASD.
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.