Work that involves using an open flame or other source of heat – typically called “hot work” – can cause materials to ignite in a work area, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation notes. Hot work includes brazing; burning; grinding work that may generate a spark; oxyacetylene cutting; propane soldering; and the use of power-actuated tools, portable electric tools, and any open-flame or spark-creating equipment.
Before beginning hot work, ask your employees:
- Does everyone understand the scope of the hot work?
- Have all affected employees been notified?
- Has the required permit been filled out?
- Has someone inspected the area where the hot work is being done?
- Have all flammable and combustible materials been removed from the area?
- Has the area been inspected to make sure no flammable vapors are present?
- Is a fire extinguisher available?
- Have immovable objects been covered with a non-combustible material?
- Do employees know to immediately stop hot work if conditions change or odors become present until the area has been re-inspected?
OBWC also advises having a responsible person serve as a “fire watch.” A fire watch is an employee who watches hot work as it is being done – without performing any other distracting work – to ensure everything is going smoothly. A fire watch needs to know how to summon help, report emergencies and use a fire extinguisher, and he or she should know the facility’s emergency evacuation procedures.
Once hot work is complete, the area where it was performed needs to be inspected within 30 minutes to verify no smoldering fires remain.