Tips For Mitigating Fire Hazards From Hot Work

Poor hot work supervision, failure to follow safety procedures, and lack of proper welding, grinding and cutting equipment can lead to a raging fire that not only destroys your property but also puts your workers' lives at risk. Here are simple guidelines on where hot work fire hazards are most likely to occur and tips to preventing them.

Common fire hazards from hot work

During welding, slag and other molten materials are often scattered in various directions, posing a serious fire risk, especially if there are combustible materials such as wood and flammable liquids in the vicinity.

Hot sparks and slag from welding can also fall through floor and wall openings and get lodged in cracks, clothing and pipe holes, causing fires in adjacent rooms that may not be protected with welding curtains and blankets.

Hot work on pipes in contact with combustibles such as walls, ceilings, partitions and roofs also often leads to ignition through conductive heating, leading to accidental fires. This is also true when hot work is done on a wall with combustible insulation or on partitions of combustible sandwich-type panel construction.

Tips to preventing fires and explosions

To reduce the risk of fires during welding and allied hot work processes, you must implement a hot work permit system with safety checks and measures.

To begin with, ensure that all cutting and welding equipment is inspected for defects and damage before work begins. You should also ensure that floor areas around the hot work operation are thoroughly swept for combustibles.

Additional precautions to prevent fires would include covering all combustible surfaces, including walls, ceilings and floors, with fire retardant plywood, flame-proof tarpaulin or other fire retardant materials. You should also seal all floor and wall openings with slag catchers to prevent sparks from travelling to other unprotected areas. Electrical cables, fuel lines and other installations in the hot work zone should also be protected with fire blankets beforehand.

Further precautions are required when working with oxy-gas equipment. Firstly, the fuel tanks should be kept a safe distance from the work zone, with straps used to keep them upright so as to prevent tipping over. The cylinder valves should also be kept shut while the hoses are being connected or disconnected, while flash back arrestors should be fitted to both sides of the hoses to prevent sparks from igniting the fuel tank.

Finally, conduct a fire watch a few minutes after hot works have been completed to check the site for any sparks and molten materials that may pose a risk of fire. 

If you don't have teh necessary fire safety supplies, contact a company like Vern Lewis Welding Supply Inc.