Best practice in reducing fire risk during construction18 Jan 21
Ensuring that hot works permits procedures are robust and properly implemented; considering the use of technology such as thermal imaging cameras that assist with risk reduction; and improving the competency of hot works operatives were just some of the good practice measures proposed by Zurich Insurance experts at last week's GIRI Insurance Insight webinar. Behavioural tools such as ingraining the GIRI mantra of 'pressing pause' in corporate messaging were also highlighted in the webinar.
In 2018, property insurance fire claims amounted to £1.3 billion, revealed speakers Robert Innes and Matthew Porter, with notable losses in the last two years including a £145 million loss from a fire in Auckland, and £100 million loss due to a railway station fire in Jeddah. The presenters referred to recent examples of claims for fire damage which had been received by Zurich Insurance, ranging from a £20 million claim for losses on a 10-storey building renovation project, which was settled at just £12 million, to a £3 million claim for which no payout was made.
Areas of concern ranged from inadequate fire watches and lack of fire risk management plans for construction phases, to poor storage of combustible materials and maintenance of fire suppression equipment. The extent and type of insurance cover that was in place for each claim was reviewed as part of the presentation, to help attendees understand any exclusions that might apply.
But the speakers went on to highlight good-practice guidelines that could reduce the risk of fires on construction sites, such as the strengthening of the hot works permit process, the importance of having a proper fire risk management plan, including proper compartmentalisation, for the construction phase, and how technology such as thermal imaging cameras and smart permits could assist in risk reduction. Proper compliance with the Joint Code of Practice for Preventing Fires on Construction Sites is vital to ensure that insurance is not invalidated, was a key message.
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