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Hot Work: The Safety Precautions Your Contractor Team Should Be Taking

Each of your contractors should be fully aware of the risks hot work poses, as well as the safety precautions they should take to mitigate these risks.

Due to the extent of risk involved, your team of contractors should become familiar with certain precautions and safety standards before commencing work. This enables businesses to properly protect workers and property surrounding hot work activities.

In addition to the other safety precautions and trainings your contractor staff will undergo, consider implementing the following basic hot work safety precautions:

  1. Perform hot work in a properly arranged maintenance shop, unless the job cannot be moved to it.
  2. Ensure equipment is in good condition, and thoroughly check all valves, regulators, hoses, and torches.
  3. Do not use welding, cutting or other hot work equipment in a building if sprinklers are out of service.
  4. Move combustibles at least 35 feet from hot work operations. If combustibles cannot be moved, they must be protected by metal guards or by flameproof curtains or covers rather than ordinary tarpaulins.
  5. Prohibit hot work in or on vessels containing flammable or combustible materials, including residues, until they have been completely cleaned and purged or made inert.
  6. Check the atmosphere for combustible gases or vapors where necessary, using reliable detection equipment. If there is a chance of a gas vapor release during hot work operations, use continuous-uty portable combustible-gas detectors to constantly monitor the area.
  7. Prohibit hot work until surrounding floors have been swept clean and, if combustible, wet down.
  8. Prohibit hot work until all wall and floor openings within 35 feet of the operations have been tightly covered or otherwise protected with metal guards or flameproof tarpaulins.
  9. Prohibit hot work until responsible persons have been assigned to watch for dangerous sparks in the area and on floors above and below.
  10. Secure gas cutting and welding cylinders so they will not be upset or damaged and replace protective caps on all cylinders not actually in use.
  11. Carefully connect the ground clamp when using electrical arc welding equipment. Since an improperly made ground can be a source of ignition, the ground clamp should be connected as close to the work as possible sot that it may be easily observed.
  12. Arrange for a patrol of the area, including floors above and below, during any break in the work, such as lunch or rest periods, and for at least half an hour after the work has been completed. If the hot work ends near the time of a shift change, arrangements should be made for the patrols to continue into the next shift.
  13. Use portable stands to elevate welding hose or cable off floor areas where it can be easily damaged.
  14. Prohibit hot work until a permit is obtained from the person authorized to issue permits.

There are times, however, when the work environment your team inhabits cannot be made safe for hot work services. Some examples of improper hot work conditions for contractors include:

  1. Where processes involving flammable liquids, gases and dusts cannot be shut down and made safe.
  2. Where lint conditions are severe beyond correction.
  3. On partitions, walls, ceilings or roofs with combustible coverings (e.g., expanded plastic insulation).
  4. On partitions of combustible sandwich-type construction.
  5. On pipe or other metals that can conduct enough heat to ignite nearby combustibles.
  6. Where there are large amounts of combustibles that are impractical to move or cover (roll paper, cotton or jute storage).

These hot works safety precautions and improper work conditions should be included in the written contract documents for your staff and customers to protect your business from any liability costs.