HSB, the specialist engineering and technology insurer, saw UK construction plant fire claims double in 2020.
A review of claims data highlighted a surge in plant fire claims in Q2 and Q3 2020, reflecting the impact pandemic-related project delays have had on the construction industry.
The data shows that these operational fires were due to increased hydraulic hose failures and electrical faults, a sign that plant and equipment was being worked harder, according to HSB.
Fires, caused by hose failure, often occur if the hydraulic fluids are sprayed onto hot working parts of equipment. In addition, running plant with constantly low fluid levels can also present a substantial risk of fire and damage.
John Nicholls, construction product lead at HSB, commented: “Our claims data provides a clear indication that the pandemic has impacted on the number of plant fire claims we have seen. As construction sites re-mobilised after the first lockdown and contractors sought to steer projects back on schedule, plant was worked harder than usual; placing additional stress on working parts and electrical systems. With projects typically operating to tight deadlines, the repercussions of out of action equipment can be costly.”
Regular visual inspections of working parts, hydraulic lines, fluid levels, the engine bay, electrical system and electrical control coupled with scheduled maintenance can mitigate the risk of operational fires occurring, according to HSB.