CSB warns of hazards associated with hot work
Following an explosion at the PCA Corrugated Mill in Wausau, WI, that killed three maintenance workers, the Chemical Safety Board on March 4 issued a safety bulletin (.pdf file) on the hazards of "hot work." Hot work includes burning, welding, cutting, brazing, grinding, soldering or similar spark-producing operations that can ignite a flammable atmosphere, according to a CSB press release.
The bulletin said seven hot-work accidents have occurred since July 2008. All resulted from a flammable vapor coming into contact with an ignition source created by welding or cutting being performed in or near tanks containing flammables.
CSB recommends the following safety procedures:
- Perform a hazard assessment prior to starting hot work.
- Use properly calibrated combustible gas detectors to monitor the work area.
- Test surrounding tanks or adjacent spaces for flammables.
- Ensure qualified people review and authorize hot work and issue permits.
- Train personnel on hot work procedures, combustible gas detectors, safety equipment and job-specific hazards.
- Supervise contractors and inform them of nearby flammable materials.
- Use alternatives whenever possible.