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Insurance company Zurich has suggested that the use of thermal imaging cameras should be adopted by contractors as standard to help reduce the number of fires caused by ‘Hot Work’, such as welding and grinding.
With work on construction sites and buildings beginning to increase again with the easing of the lockdown, the risk from fires caused by Hot Work is also likely to increase.
Based on information from a Freedom of Information request, the insurer found that a quarter of all accidental fires on UK construction sites were caused by welding, grinding and torch-applied roofing.
The data also showed that between January 2015 and March 2019, fire crews in the UK were called to 1,587 construction fires, of which 28% were caused by hot work, or other sources of heat.
Zurich’s own research claims that 15% of the total cost of all UK fires in commercial and industrial properties involve hot work. Between 2016-2019, the cost of damage from industries that involve Hot Work amounted to £250 million.
In addition to thermal imaging devices, Zurich is also recommending that contractors complete a training course, to receive a voluntary licensing system, before supervising Hot Work. This approach has been implemented in Scandinavian countries since the 1980s, where it showed improvement by reducing hot work fires to less than 5% over the last decade.
Kumu Kumar, Director of Risk Engineering for Zurich UK, said: “Fires caused by Hot Work have a devastating impact on lives, businesses and communities. The construction industry already has robust Hot Work controls in place but with fires continuing to break out, additional measures are urgently needed.
He added: “Thermal cameras could further strengthen the industry’s existing safeguards and help to detect more hot spots before they ignite. The devices can also be used to take time-stamped photos to demonstrate fire watches have been carried out. Although there is no single solution for preventing hot work fires, this is a relatively cheap and simple measure that could have a far-reaching impact, especially if the cameras are adopted as standard.”
Fire Depot stocks a range of handy 'grab & go' Firechief Hot Work kits which are suitable for use on site. You can also view a video on using the Hot Work kit here and download a Hot Work Guide which includes a Hot Work permit template here or by snapping the QR code below:
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