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.

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