What Does Hot Work Mean?
Hot work is any occupational activity that produces heat, flames, or sparks that are capable of starting fires or explosions. This includes welding, soldering, brazing, grinding, and smelting. Using a furnace with an open flame or cutting tools that cause sparking can also be considered hot work procedures.
Since fire hazards are inherent to these activities, doing hot work requires the acquisition of a hot work permit from the employer's safety department.
Safeopedia Explains Hot Work
Hot work permits are issued by facilities where hot work operations take place. The permit documents the nature of the hot work (including the object or materials on which it is performed), the safety procedures required to carry it out safely, and the date for which the hot work is authorized. It must be kept on file until the work is completed.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 51B standard is central to managing hot work. OSHA's 29 CFR 1910 Subpart Q makes reference to NFPA 51B, while NFPA 1 (Fire Code) Chapter 41 explicitly requires compliance with it.
Hot Work Hazard Management
Hot work is capable of uniting all three parts of the fire triangle: oxygen, fuel, and a source of ignition. It also brings together a number of hazards - not only fire hazards, but also electrical, thermal, compressed gas, and respiratory hazards, to name a few. Given these various hazards, hot work management programs should include policies, procedures, training, and clearly assigned responsibilities in order to mitigate risks.
It is also necessary to test for the presence of flammable gases in the work area before starting any hot work.
Hot work hazards can be minimized using the "Recognize, Evaluate, and Control" process covered in NFPA 51B:
- Recognize: Determine whether there is a risk of fire from the work that will be performed
- Evaluate: Identify fire hazards in the work area, such as combustible liquids or flammable gases
- Control: Implement control measures to eliminate the hazard or minimize its associated risks