Hot Work and the risks associated with it
It would be fair to say that most businesses have ensured that they have the appropriate safeguards in place in order to prevent fire and the associated damage that it brings. In addition, they will have implemented fire alarm training and regular fire drills to ensure that everyone knows what to do in the event of a fire.
The majority of these businesses will not have any reason to believe that they will indeed have a real fire to content with. However, for several construction and maintenance projects there comes many hazards that are an integral part of their job. When your operations regularly involve hot work, it needs to be carefully managed to be fully aware of and mitigate hazards effectively.
What is hot work?
Hot Work is a process that involves operations such as welding, cutting and soldering along with any activities that involves an open flames or excessive heat. The Hot Work intentionally introduces a source of ignition when flammable material is present or can be a fire hazard regardless of the presence of flammable material in the workplace.
It therefore needs to be carefully managed and controlled in order to reduce the risk associated with it.
The risks involved with hot work.
Conducting hot work safely is imperative to managing fire safety in the workplace. It is important to identify hot work hazards and control measures to reduce risks associated with fire such as injury, death, damage to premises and equipment, and loss of income for both the business and employees.
It is important to be aware of the types of hazards, some of which include:
- Electrical hazards
- Exposure to harmful UV or infrared light
- Exposure to dangerous fumes
- Flying sparks can cause fires or combustion
- Conducting heat through pipes
- Skin injuries through contact with hot materials or equipment
Hot work may not always be avoidable, but you can minimise risks by ensuring the correct assessment procedures and controls are in place.
Control measures to use for hot work to keep everyone safe.
To ensure that essential hot work is carried out as safely as possible there are some things that you can do to minimise the risks.
- Avoid hot work where possible
- Prepare a permit to work
- Clear the area where hot work will take place
- Do the hot work in a designated or cornered off area
- Ensure everyone is suitably trained to do the work
- Monitor gas and vapour
- Improve Fire Safety in the workplace
- Make certain everyone has the correct protective gear when conducting hot work activities
- Managing contractors
- Spot checks and audits
Having a robust fire risk assessment to identify hot work hazards and putting controls and measures in place to minimise the risk to both the workforce and workplace is essential.
In addition, you will also need someone on hand to complete a fire watch, they need to have the authority and confidence to cease activities if they deem it to be dangerous. They should be well briefed and have the relevant training to use fire extinguishers and reels.