Hot Work Health and Safety
All hot work such as welding has the potential to cause a fire and endanger the health and safety of those in the area. The flame, sparks and heat generated by the equipment used in the works can provide the ignition to start a fire when it is combined with a suitable combustible source of fuel.
It is vital therefore that those involved with hot works have received detailed and appropriate fire health and safety training, which can include training on the specific safe usage of the equipment, training in hot permit to work procedures, and obtaining accredited fire safety qualifications such as the NEBOSH Fire Certificate.
To avoid the combining of fuel and sources of ignition, certain precautions need to be taken. For a start, all flammable material that can be removed from the area where the hot work is taking place should be moved well out of the way. Not only does this include combustible material, but also liquids such as oil or petrol that has been spilt on the floor and could ignite should be removed. If it cannot be completely cleaned up and removed, the hot works should not take place there as it will be too dangerous.
As a fire is more likely to start in the area where the hot work is taking place, it is therefore prudent to have fire fighting equipment such as suitable fire extinguishers located close at hand, as well as a means of raising the alarm if necessary. Workers should also be trained and familiarise themselves with the operation of this equipment, as trying to figure it out whilst a fire grows can waste precious time and lead to a minor incident becoming a major one.
A fire does not have to start instantaneously, as the heat can cause a fire to ignite even after the work has finished. This means that checks need to be made for a recommended period of at least two hours after the work has been completed to ensure no fires have started, rather than simply downing tools and going straight to the exit at the end of the day.