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Last edited 07 Dec 2020
HSG 168 Fire safety in construction
HSG 168 Fire safety in construction is a reference book published by the Health and Safety Executive. Its purpose is to provide guidance for clients, designers and those managing and carrying out construction work involving significant fire risks both on large construction projects and small refurbishment sites.
The first edition of HSG 168 was published in 1997. A web version of the book has been adapted from the revised 2010 second edition. It is available free of charge from the following link.
As of November 2020, HSG 168 is under review. HSE is evaluating numerous out of date references including those related to relevant legislation. Once the review is complete, the second edition will be removed from the HSE bookstore and replaced.
However, the second edition of HSG 168 presents information that is not included in any other publications. The sections covering multi-storey structures and high risk buildings include lessons learned from fires that have taken place at these types of sites.
Construction fire safety needs to be managed from the earliest stages of design and procurement and needs to address the risks both to site workers and to site neighbours. This may mean rejecting proposals for particular methods and materials in a specific location based on the potential for serious consequences from any fire during the construction stage, or planning additional, sometimes expensive or difficult, mitigation methods if a specific design or method is not to be changed.
While following HSG 168 guidance is not compulsory, it is meant to help those designated as duty holders to understand the action they can take to manage risk and comply with health and safety law. Alternative methods of safe and legal compliance are acceptable, as long as they help prevent anyone being harmed on- or off-site by construction activities.
It explains how professionals involved in construction projects can comply with their legal duties relating to fire risks. Specifically, it can be used to assist those who have legal responsibilities under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005, while assisting site managers in the day-to-day management of fire risks on site.
There is also close liaison with the Health and Safety Executive to ensure the Joint Fire Code (also known as the Fire Prevention on Construction Sites: The Joint Fire Code) is aligned with HSG 168 Fire Safety in Construction Work.
HSG 168 is divided into three parts.
- Step 1 Identify hazards
- Step 2 Identify people most at risk
- Step 3 Evaluate, remove, reduce and protect from risk
- Step 4 Record, plan, inform, instruct and train
- Step 5 Review
- Reducing ignition sources.
- Reducing potential fuel sources.
- General fire precautions.
- Emergency procedures.
- Higher fire risk methods and materials of construction.
- Guidance for multi-storey buildings (new or refurbished).
Part 3 outlines legal and enforcement responsibilities. It reviews the main fire regulations that govern construction and examines how this has an impact on construction sites. It also looks at who has responsibility for enforcing the legislation. Coverage includes:
- What does this mean for those with responsibilities for construction work?
- Enforcement of fire safety legislation for construction sites, construction work and incidental activities
- Which authority enforces fire safety?
It is available at: https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/hsg168.pdf
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- CDM 2015.
- Construction fire safety responsibility and competence matrix.
- Fire in buildings.
- Fire safety design.
- Health and Safety Executive HSE.
- Joined-up thinking is key to building safely.
- Joint fire code.
- Responsible person under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
- Risk assessment.
- The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
- Timber framed buildings and fire.
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