Home Contractor's Corner Safe2Torch guidance update: All you need to know

Safe2Torch guidance update: All you need to know

Bob Richardson, Head of Technical and Training at NFRC, talks through the latest updates to the hugely important Safe2Torch guidance, highlighting the key areas roofing contractors and others in the supply chain need to be aware of…

Bob Richardson, NFRC Head of Technical and Training.

In 2017, working with both manufacturers and contractors, NFRC launched the Safe2Torch campaign to mitigate roof fires on construction sites caused by gas torches. An integral part of the Safe2Torch launch was the Safe2Torch guidance, emphasising that fire safety needs to be managed from the earliest stages of design and procurement, through to the construction phase.

NFRC recently formed a working group to review and update the Safe2Torch guidance to reflect the safer installation methods adopted by – some of – the industry since Safe2Torch was launched over six years ago. The working group agreed to change the description of the guide to: ‘for the safe installation of reinforced bitumen membranes and use of gas torches in the workplace’, thus removing reference to ‘torch-on’ as many Reinforced Bitumen Membrane (RBM) systems are now being installed as flame-free.

“The guidance now elaborates on the importance of removing the risk of fire at the design stage, and whilst we haven’t removed the reference to the 900 mm ‘flame-free zone’ as a minimum requirement, we’ve underpinned the importance of this being risk assessed based on site conditions”

Bob Richardson, NFRC Head of Technical and Training

The guidance has moved away from the terminology ‘torch-free zone’ to ‘flame-free zone’ as this reflects the innovation in electronic torches and RBM systems that can now be fully installed with hot-air welders. The guidance now elaborates on the importance of removing the risk of fire at the design stage, and whilst we haven’t removed the reference to the 900 mm ‘flame-free zone’ as a minimum requirement, we’ve underpinned the importance of this being risk assessed based on site conditions.

The guidance also now references high-risk buildings, including NFRC’s Fire Risk Safety Alert on CLASP Buildings due to their increased fire risk and the importance of compliance with HSG168 Fire Safety in Construction. The section in the guidance on gas bottles, torches and fire extinguishers has also been updated based on user feedback, and the Safe2Torch checklist now includes the feature that allows you to input the project title and date.

“As Safe2Torch guidance adapts to industry developments and advancements, we work with all stakeholders to enhance understanding and implementation”

Philip wilcox-moore, Managing director, Axter UK

“A vital role in mitigating fire risk”
Commenting on the collaboration between the contractors and suppliers involved in the Safe2Torch revision, Phillip Wilcox-Moore, Managing Director of Axter UK, said: “NFRC’s Safe2Torch guidance is playing a vital role in mitigating fire risk in the flat roofing industry. We proudly support this initiative, adopting clear guidance practices within our technical specifications and contractor upskilling programmes. As Safe2Torch guidance adapts to industry developments and advancements, we work with all stakeholders to enhance understanding and implementation, ensuring a continually improving, safer, flat roof design and installation sector.”

“Roofing contractors nationwide now need to ensure all operatives have been trained and fully understand the installation methods, STT checklists and associated risks that come with a new safe system of work”

Shaun Lotay, Technical Director at Langley Waterproofing

Shaun Lotay, Technical Director at Langley Waterproofing, added: “Six years ago, Safe2Torch set out to revolutionize roofing safety. Thanks to its collaborative spirit and practical guidance, the campaign has significantly improved awareness of safe working and specification practices and strengthened the industry’s image.”

Robert Richmond, Managing Director at LRL Roofing Solutions, commented: “The Safe2Torch campaign has been highly successful throughout the Roofing industry and should be encouraged as best practice to all roofing operatives. Reducing the risk to any high-risk activities should be fully embraced and supported by all.”

He added: “The industry has been in dire need of new, innovative ideas to reduce the potential for harm to both employer and building owners alike. Roofing contractors nationwide now need to ensure all operatives have been trained and fully understand the installation methods, STT checklists and associated risks that come with a new safe system of work.”

“The Safe2Torch checklist generated by NFRC is an excellent document and is a great addition when assessing a roof and producing risk and method statements”

Sharon Llewellyn, Director at JPR Roofing and Flooring Limited

Sharon Llewellyn, Director at JPR Roofing and Flooring Limited, added: “The Safe2Torch checklist generated by NFRC is an excellent document and is a great addition when assessing a roof and producing risk and method statements. The checklist helps to eliminate risk from fire and clearly identifies when hot air systems should be utilised, if not already detailed in the manufacturer’s specification. Submitting a completed checklist to the client helps to demonstrate that the project will be installed safely and to the correct standard.”

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