Hot Work Safety
Hot work may include spark and high heat producing job tasks such as grinding, welding, soldering, thermal or oxygen cutting or heating. Advanced planning and safe work procedures help prevent workplace fires caused by hot works activities.
Whenever possible, hot works activities should take place in designated areas designed to accommodate sparks and high heat safely. Hot work areas should be labeled with warning signs. They should be isolated from flammable and combustible materials and protected with welding and warning screens that limit access. They need a solid, flame-proof floor with no cracks or openings and adequate ventilation.
Hot work may be required in different areas inside and outside buildings where extra precautions are needed to prevent fires. A hot work permit is required for onsite work. The permit identifies one person in charge and provides a safety checklist before work begins.
The health effects of hot work exposures are difficult to list because of the many different substances that are known to be harmful (depending on the factors listed above). Hot work can affect many parts of the body including the lungs, heart, kidneys, and central nervous system.
The intense heat of welding and sparks can cause burns. Eye injuries have resulted from contact with hot slag, metal chips, sparks, and hot electrodes. In addition, excessive exposure to heat can result in heat stress or heat stroke. Those who perform hot work activities need to be aware of the following symptoms: fatigue, dizziness, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal pain, and irritability. Ventilation, shielding, rest breaks, and frequent fluid consumption can protect against heat-related hazards.
The intense light associated with arc welding can cause damage to the retina of the eye, while infrared radiation may damage the cornea and in the formation of cataracts. Invisible UV light from the arc can cause “arc eye” or “welder’s flash” after brief exposure (less than one minute). The symptoms of arc eye usually occur many hours after exposure to UV light and include a feeling of sand or grit in the eye, blurred vision, intense pain, tearing, burning, and headache.
The arc can cause injury by direct or indirect viewing from reflection off surrounding materials. Workers who continually work near UV radiation without protection from welding curtains or screens can suffer permanent eye damage. About half of welder’s flash injuries occur in co-workers who are not welding.
Fires and Explosions:
The intense heat and sparks produced by welding, cutting, grinding, or the welding flame can cause fires or explosions if combustible or flammable materials are in the vicinity. Welding, cutting, or grinding must be performed in areas that are free of combustible materials, including trash, wood, paper, textiles, plastics, chemicals, flammable dusts, and liquids and gases (vapors can travel hundreds of feet). Those materials that cannot be removed must be covered with a tight-fitting flame-resistant material. Doorways, windows, cracks, and other openings need to be covered.
The fire watch (a designated individual) is responsible for monitoring the area and responding to potential and actual fires. The individual needs to be trained on and have an adequate number and sizes of fire extinguishers on hand to handle fires. Other firefighting equipment such as fire blankets, shovels, water hoses, etc. need to be on hand depending on the work area and the type of hot work being performed. An employee performing fire watch must be present before, during, and at least 30 minutes after the operation is completed.
Fire watches are required whenever welding or cutting is performed in locations where a major fire might develop or the following conditions exist:
Combustible materials are closer than 35 feet to the point of operation;
Combustibles are more than 35 feet away but are easily ignitable by sparks;
Wall or floor openings within a 35-foot radius that expose combustible material in adjacent areas, including concealed spaces in walls or floors; or
- Combustible materials are adjacent to the opposite side of metal partitions, walls, ceilings, or roofs and are likely to be ignited by conduction or radiation.
Fire watches are to have fire-extinguishing equipment readily available and be trained in its use. They are to be familiar with facilities for sounding an alarm in the event of a fire. They must watch for fires in exposed areas, try to extinguish them when within the capacity of the equipment available, or otherwise sound the alarm. A fire watch is to be maintained for at least a half hour after completion of welding or cutting operations to detect and extinguish possible smoldering fires.
Hot work safety rules:
Try to weld only in well-ventilated areas.
Do not weld, cut, or grind near flammable or combustible materials, liquids, vapors, or dusts.
Have the appropriate fire extinguisher close by.
Use only approved equipment in good condition and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Inspect equipment for loose connections and bare wires or cables before operating. Make sure the machinery is properly grounded.
Handle compressed gas cylinders safely, following proper use and storage procedures.
Keep aisles and stairways clear of cables and equipment.
Keep other people a safe distance from welding and cutting operations.
- Know where the safety showers and eyewash stations are and how to use them.
You should also watch for symptoms of metal fume fever, caused by breathing fumes formed while welding. Symptoms may include a metallic taste in the mouth, dry nose and throat, weakness, fatigue, joint and muscle pain, fever, chills and nausea. Notify your supervisor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.
Fires that are small…soon will be tall!!!
Download flyer: SMOTW_50_HotWorkSafety.pdf (112.37 kb)