Staying safe when performing hot work
Hot work – jobs that involve burning, welding, or using fire or spark-producing tools – can be dangerous.
“Workers performing hot work such as welding, cutting, brazing, soldering and grinding are exposed to the risk of fires from ignition of flammable or combustible materials in the space, and from leaks of flammable gas into the space, from hot work equipment,” OSHA notes.
Potential hazards related to hot work include:
- Getting burned: Hot work can result in fires and explosions, so it’s important to take precautions to prevent burn injuries. OSHA recommends performing hot work in safe locations away from fire hazards; never performing hot work in an area where flammable vapors or combustible materials exist; and using guards to “confine the heat, sparks, and slag, and to protect the immovable fire hazards.” In addition, make sure appropriate fire-extinguishing equipment is on hand in the event of an emergency, and assign someone to watch as a guard when hot work is occurring. Because workers can suffer burns resulting from the accumulation of flammable gases, OSHA recommends monitoring the hot work area with a gas detector. Stop work immediately if a flammable or combustible gas exceeds 10 percent of its lower explosive limit.
- Suffering a grinding-related injury: Workers who perform grinding work are at risk of a variety of injuries, including getting their fingers or hands caught in the grinding wheel, being struck by a portable grinder, and getting injured by sparks from flying metal filings. To help prevent these injuries, OSHA advises wearing appropriate personal protective equipment, inspecting all grinding equipment prior to use, and ensuring a fire guard and fire prevention equipment are available.
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