‘Hot work’ is a high-risk task that threatens the health and safety of workers in the area where it is being performed. For instance, sparks from welding work in an area with inflammable materials may cause a fire accident, resulting in injury to personnel or damage of property. Carrying out hot work activities with a safety-first approach is an important part of workplace safety. In order to do so, you need to identify hot work hazards and necessary control measures that will effectively reduce the severity of risks and keep workers safe.
A hot work permit is a ‘Permit to Work’ (PTW) system that issues an authorization to perform hot work, along with enlisting all safety procedures to be followed. A next-generation PTW system will make it easier for employers to not only issue permits but proactively mitigate any risks through ease of collaboration and access to data.
ComplianceQuest’s Permit to Work Software is a next generation solution to streamline and automate the process of issuing permits to perform tasks in high-hazard areas.
It includes purpose-built features to understand, analyze and mitigate risks arising from hot work.
To know more about CQ PTW solution, request for a demo here
What are some safety precautions to be taken before performing hot work?
Before performing hot work, you should consider the following:
- The fitness and readiness-to-use of all the involved equipment must be tested
- Task-specific personal protective equipment / gear should be available at the site and workers must be well-qualified on how to use, clean, and store them properly
- Examine the workplace completely and eliminate any visual hazards
- All combustible and flammable materials should be kept away from the workplace
- All appropriate fire extinguishers and first-aid boxes should be available and easily accessible
- Examine the area after completing the hot work to make sure that wall surfaces and wires have not heated up
- Comply with applicable regulatory requirements and legislation in your sector/location
Below are few examples of risks triggered by hot work:
Flying sparks: This is one of the major risks associated with hot work. Sparks created during hot work can get stuck in pipes, gaps, openings, and other small cracks. This can possibly smoulder and cause a fire.
Flammable residues: There is a lot of combustible hot debris and residue leftover from hot work. This could result in a massive blaze.
Hot surfaces: During hot work, there may be many flammable goods or materials that may remain in the surface. They may come into contact with a hot surface during the activity and quickly cause a fire.
Circulation of heat when working on pipes: Hot labor can swiftly overheat a pipe. This heat could easily transfer to another flammable surface through conduction, resulting in a fire.
Explosive environment: There may be highly combustible fumes or gases in the air, that might cause a fire if exposed to hot work.
Hot Work Control Measures to Keep Workers Safe
A safety-first approach is necessary in any context and gains more significance in locations where hot work has to be performed. There are a few circumstances when hot work must not be allowed:
- Within 50 feet of stored cylinders or stored fuel
- Presence of unauthorized personnel nearby within the risky -zone
- In the presence of a potentially explosive atmosphere
Once you have identified the hot work hazards in your workplace, you should plan and implement control measures to ensure your workplace is a safer environment and one that protects workers from accidents and any harm. The following are the hot work control measures you should consider:
Avoid Hot Work Where Possible
If possible, you can consider alternative processes and activities that eliminate hot work completely, especially in locations where fire hazards are possible.
Prepare a Permit to Work
Before starting any hot work activities, you should prepare a hot work permit that includes the work to be carried out, how and when it will be completed and what precautions should be taken to ensure that activities are safe.
The person who will prepare the permit should have relevant skills, knowledge, experience, and training. You should also take feedback from all workers who will be involved in hot work activities.
Clear the Area of Any Unnecessary Material
You should keep your workplace free from unnecessary materials, equipment, waste, or debris. Thus, you can keep fire safety risks to a minimum and reduce other health and safety risks such as the risk of slips and trips. A clear area also enables workers to evacuate safely in the event of a fire.
Perform Hot Work only in the Designated Area
There should be areas designated for hot work activities like welding, brazing, soldering, and other tasks involving heat or open flames. These areas should be designed to be safe, and inflammable or combustible objects should be covered with protective, fire-resistant materials. A designated hot work area can help you to minimize risks and eliminate or control hazards.
While selecting a designated area for hot work activities involving heat and flames, you should avoid places where explosive substances are kept. Where it is not possible to perform hot work away from explosive substances, it should be ensured that substances are stored safely and securely. Care should be taken to comply with COSHH regulations at all times.
Ensure Workers are Trained to Perform Hot Work
Workers who perform the hot work should have the skills, knowledge, experience, and training to complete the tasks along with implementing control measures and monitoring health and safety standards.
Improve the Fire Safety of Your Workplace
You should improve the overall fire safety of your workplace to reduce hot work risks. Fire safety policies and procedures should be upgraded, relevant, and comprehensive. Workers should be professionally trained on how to use fire safety equipment such as fire extinguishers and fire-retardant blankets. They should also be well-versed with all fire-fighting systems such as smoke alarms, sprinklers, and evacuation procedures. The readiness and effectiveness of your fire safety plan must be frequently tested with the help of mock drills that will help you identify gaps and pave the path to more robust fire-fighting capabilities.
Protective gear and flame-resistant garments
You should provide suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) for workers performing hot work including extraction equipment, fire-resistant garments, face masks, eye protection, and other equipment. Thus, you can protect people from heat, sparks, or hazardous fumes and radiation.
You can get the following advantages from the hot work permit system for places where hot work is not permitted:
- Remind workers about necessary safety precautions and responsibilities,
- Dodge fire alarms temporarily to avoid false alarms,
- Examine an incident with the help of the fire department where hot work is being performed.
Hot Work Operational Requirements
Hot work is allowed only in fire-safe areas or either designated areas or permitted areas.
A designated area is a specific area designed or approved for such work that consists of non-combustible or fire-resistive construction.
A permitted area is a fire-prevention area by protecting or removing combustibles from ignition sources.
Ideal framework for a Hot Work Management Program?
Hot work management programs control or eliminate hot work hazards and their risks through the development of policies, procedures, and the assignment of responsibilities and accountabilities for all aspects of hot work. A program includes:
- Where hot work is allowed
- When hot work is allowed
- Who can authorize, perform, and monitor hot work activities
- What should be assessed before performing hot work in an area
- How to prepare for hot work in an area
- What can be done if hot work cannot be avoided in a hazardous area
- What are the tools required for hot work
- How and when to acquire a hot work permit and who can supervise them
- Workers, supervisors, fire wardens, and contractors should be trained specific to their roles
- Sharing procedures
- Sharing policies
- Displaying signs in areas where performing hot work is prohibited
The Importance of Hot Work Permit
Hot work permit manages the program for hot work activities. If an organization’s employee or temporary workers attempt to perform hot work, it should be authorized, checked, and reported. Incorporating certain specific terms requiring the utilization of a composed hot work permit program and randomly checking for consistency will ensure that the lawful, administrative, and preventive necessities that go with hot works are being enforced.
ComplianceQuest’s Permit to Work system takes a risk-based approach that sets up necessary executive work control. It can help you to reduce the threat of accidents and improve your risk profile. It also offers transparency, analyses risk trends, helps remain OSHA-compliant, and conforms to the requirements of the highest hazard levels.
ComplianceQuest offers a Hot Work Permit checklist, to help leaders take care of all necessary safety precautions before performing hot work.