Safety Tip of the Week – Hot Work and Fire Watchers

In the construction industry, welding, cutting, and brazing all create or involve melting of metal or molten metal, sparks, weld spatter, slag, and hot work surfaces. Fires can easily result from all these operations. That is why these operations are referred to as “Hot Work.”

Fire Watchers in Construction

According to OSHA CFR 1926.352 Subpart J Welding and Cutting in the Construction Industry, the employer must assign additional employees to be on guard or continually maintain a watch against the potential of a fire occurring during any welding, cutting, or heating operations, including an additional 30 minutes to remain watching following the completion of the hot work. These employees are referred to as “fire watchers.”

“Fire Watchers” Are Trained in the Following:

“Fire watchers” should provide additional safeguards against fire potential with fire prevention equipment and correctly use the equipment for specific job tasks per location, during and after welding, cutting, or heating operations.

They should also continually evaluate necessity to provide a “fire watcher;” understand the responsibilities of a “fire watcher” and the employer’s welding best practices; inspect areas for fire hazards before welding or cutting operations begin, focusing on combustible materials within 35 feet, more than 35 feet, wall openings, floor openings, concealed wall, or floor surfaces, adjacent to or even opposite the welding activities; adequately cover fire hazards that cannot be removed from the area of operations to prevent ignition; and obtain hot work permits prior to work application and report all fires.

REMEMBER additional information can be found in the employer’s “Fire Prevention Plan.”

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