CSB warns of hazards associated with hot work

March 11, 2010

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.