Most construction and demolition sites will require the use of hot work at some point in the project. These are jobs which involve burning and welding, or use a fire- or spark-producing tool. As you can imagine, this is dangerous work.
Common hot work processes include welding, soldering, cutting, grinding, brazing, and torch-applied roofing.
Each year, there are over 1000 reported hot-work-related injuries, many of which are life-changing. Plus, such works present a significant fire hazard, even in the absence of a flammable material in the workplace.
That’s why a hot work permit is required before anyone carries out such activities in the UK, as well as some other countries. And it should be completed whether it’s your own employees or a contractor undertaking the work.
The Hot Work Permit
The purpose is mainly to ensure that all the necessary precautions are in place before work which is correctly monitored is carried out by a suitably-trained individual. This means that the environment is clean and safe, with all combustible materials removed, and equipment is in good condition.
Additionally, workers are prepared with an appropriate fire extinguisher and personal protective equipment, have protective sheeting such as welding blankets, and know how to raise the alarm in an emergency.
All work must then be carried out in line with the completed permit. The benefit is that you are doing everything practically possible to prevent a fire or injury, and are primed if things go wrong.
What Equipment You Need
The precautions you need will vary according to the specific work being carried out.
For starters, individuals need the correct PPE. This will include suitable gloves and clothing protection, a full face shield, and maybe even a mask or respirator for where fumes and dust are produced by the work.
Brazing and welding blankets are an effective method of providing protection from welding splatter, sparks, and molten metal splashes, helping to prevent damage and fire. Often made of coated glass fibre material, some are capable of withstanding 1000°C, which is extremely hot.
For small areas, a 2kg powder fire extinguisher will mean you’re suitably prepared to tackle a fire, covering all of the classes of fire you’re likely to encounter. Ensure it is close by so you can use it immediately when needed. But just be wary of using a powder in enclosed spaces as it can affect your breathing and vision.
You may also want to have a fire blanket as that too is handy for smothering a small fire before it can get out of control. For example, a Hot Work Kit includes everything you need to ensure you’re prepared for a fire and comes in an easy-to-carry portable bag which is handy for contractors.
However, this is just one small aspect of ensuring your site is fire-safe and that all workers are properly kept safe.