Hot work is work that requires using an type of open flames, applying heat or anything that can generate heat or sparks.
Simply put, hot work can create a major fire risk. A spark from welding can easily ignite and cause serious harm to the people involved and also be a fire risk for surrounding buildings. Because of this your workplace must establish a safe working system for hot work. It will need to prepare a permit to work.
To create a permit for hot work, you must understand the risks that it poses and what measures are necessary for mitigating these risks. The safety precautions for hot work require proper training. A permit for hot work means that everyone fully understands their responsibilities and that the work does not start without proper authorisation and specific systems in place.
Hot work is defined by the British Standards Institution (BSI) in BS 9999 as “any procedure that might involve or have the potential to generate sufficient heat, sparks or flame to cause a fire. Hot work includes welding, flame cutting, soldering, brazing, grinding and the use of other equipment incorporating a flame, e.g. tar boilers, etc.”
Common types of hot work
- Cutting or grinding (creating sparks)
- Welding, brazing, and soldering
- The use of hot air blowers or heaters
- The use of open flames or torches
- Using bitumen and tar boilers
Companies may require hot work in their premises as part of routine work activities although it is also frequently carried out as part of contractual work.
Hazards resulting from hot work
Hot work can cause burns, illness due to fumes, eye damage or even loss of hearing. The biggest risk of hot work is fire. All types of hot work can easily start a fire.
Fire hazards from hot work
- Hot surfaces. If you do not correctly remove flammable materials from the area before work they could easily come into contact with a surface that has become hot during the work,m thus starting a fire
- Flying sparks. Sparks can easily get trapped in pipes, gaps, holes etc, where it may smoulder and eventually start a fire.
- Explosive atmospheres. There may be gases in the air that are highly combustible in certain workplaces. These could ignite when exposed to hot work. The hot work could generate fumes that create an explosive atmosphere.
- Heat conduction when working on pipes. Hot work can cause a pipe to heat up can easily transfer through to another flammable surface and cause fire.
The consequences of these hot work hazards can be severe and can generate a large cost for any business. Therefore it’s very important to understand how to implement appropriate safety controls.
Creating a permit to work
Preparing a permit to work is mandatory due to the level of risk posed by hot work.
“A hot work permit procedure, which may be part of an overarching safe system of work/permit to work procedure, should be followed before any hot work is allowed in or near a building. This is to ensure that correct actions are taken before hot work commences, during the operation and afterwards.” According to BS 9999
The sections that a permit must include are:
- Risks and hazards. What are the risks of the hot work?
- Precautions and procedures. What steps are required to be put in place before and during the work?
- Details of the work. What type of hot work needs to be implemented?
- Protection. Do workers need to wear protective goggles or gloves?
- Reference to isolation certificates. Does any equipment need isolating before hot work can start?
- Training and competence. Is any training required before they can carry out the hot work?
- Cancellation procedures. If the work is cancelled, who is responsible?