Uncontrolled Hot Works could Burn your Bottom Line

By on August 11, 2020

Hot Works are activities that involve the introduction of a flame or spark and have the potential to cause a fire if that flame or spark combines with fuel and oxygen. Tasks such as welding, gas cutting and grinding are deemed to be Hot Work.

“WorkSafe Victoria recently issued a safety alert about the risks associated with hot works, after a hopper liner and screen caught fire at a quarry. The fire started while bolts were being cut with an oxy-acetylene torch during maintenance activities, and emergency services were required to extinguish the fire”. 9th January 2020

Quarry fires due to uncontrolled Hot Work activities are not uncommon.

If the fire is immediately controlled and extinguished, the consequence may not be that significant. Alternately, if the fire is not immediately controlled and extinguished the consequences can be extreme and are inclusive of personal injuries to quarry workers or emergency service personnel, property damage or destruction, business disruption, increase in insurance premiums, regulatory intervention and general repair and or replacement of plant and equipment.

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Critical Controls for Hot Works

Where practical, Hot Works should be conducted in a Hot Works designated area, typically the workshop. The designated Hot Works area should:

  • Be constructed of non-combustible material
  • Have all flammable and combustible materials and substances removed or suitably covered
  • Be fitted with suitable fire suppression and firefighting equipment
  • Be suitably ventilated to ensure the air quality is of a safe level
  • Have welding screens/barricades installed to eliminate the risk of welders flash
  • Have all required PPE and other safety devices available and accessible
  • Have safe egress in case of fire or explosion

When conducting Hot Works external to the designated Hot Works area, a Safe Work Procedure (SWP) should be established to direct the activity.

The SWP should be acknowledged by all workers and should be inclusive of the following controls:

  • All portable ignition sources and flammable and combustible materials/substances shall be moved to a safe distance away from Hot Work activities or suitably covered
  • Firefighting equipment shall be accessible
  • Hydraulic oil lines, electrical cabling shall be identified and protected
  • Where practical, the area below the Hot Works shall be wet down first
  • Receptacles for the disposal of off-cuts, slag and electrode stubs shall be available
  • Suitable ventilation shall be used to ensure exposure to fume is reduced to safe levels
  • Welding screens shall be used as required to eliminate the risk of welders flash
  • Where practical, the area below the Hot Works shall be wet down after the work has been completed to ensure slow combustible slags etc. are extinguished
  • Where appropriate, e.g. not able to wet down a fire watch shall be conducted after the work has been completed
  • All oxygen and acetylene equipment shall be fitted with Flash Back Arrestors to both the torch and cylinder

Written by David McKelvie, Director of Safe Mix, a WHS consultancy that specialises is supporting the Construction Materials Industry.

If you require WHS support, contact David on 0407 022 117 or email david@safemix.com.au

Alternately visit our website www.safemix.com.au

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