Hot Work Safety Programs & Permits

Topics: Loss Control

Summary: Hot work comes with many risks. In this article, learn why it is critical to implement loss control procedures such as a hot work safety program, including filling out hot work permit forms to keep your employees and business protected from the potential risks.

Hot Work and Hot Work Permits

What is Hot Work?

Hot work is a process that involves flame spark or heat production, including welding, burning, cutting, grinding, heat treating, dulling or tapping and torch-applied roofing or other operations that could create heat, sparks, open flames, heat or explosions outside of predesignated and approved locations. Hot work activities performed by construction contractors, welders, plumbers, utility or electrical workers can be a significant fire risk to your business’s property.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) looked at structure fires from 2000 to 2014 and found 4,440 structure fires involving hot work, with 58% of them in non-home properties and 42% in the home. These hot work fires resulted in $287M in damage, 12 deaths and 208 civilian injuries. Boston implemented a hot work safety certification program in 2014 after two firefighters were killed in a fire due to unpermitted welding, high winds and combustible material. Massachusetts and other states and jurisdictions across the country are implementing safety precautions, including requiring hot work safety programs and certificates.

Hot Work Hazards

Business hot work incidents occur mostly in exterior roof surfaces and processing and manufacturing areas. The fires can be stared from flammable or combustible liquid gases and exterior roof coverings or finish. It is crucial to know the risks of hot work at your business, which include:

  • Combustible or flammable materials, such as fuel, gases, vapors, dust or other debris, in the area may catch fire.
  • High winds may spread embers and make resulting fires harder to control.
  • Fires may smolder slowly, which could make the fire not noticeable right away.
  • When hot work is performed in confined spaces, workers may be overcome or have difficulty evacuating quickly if an emergency occurs. Special precautions must be made for confined spaces.

Injuries and illnesses caused by hot work activities include exposure to welding fumes and weld shielding gases, cutting torch fumes and gases (including CO), UV light, sparks, noise, or skin injury.

What is a Hot Work Permit Program?

Hot work can sometimes be performed in unsafe conditions due to inadequate training or lack of proper procedures. Hot work permits programs should be instigated in areas where hazardous material is stored and areas where flammable areas exist.

Hot work permit programs are designed to prevent fires through proper authorization and temporary hot work operations. A well-implemented hot work permit program assists businesses in preventing fires, property damage, injury and death.

Before your company can implement a hot work permit program, it’s essential to be familiar with the relevant regulations and safety issues. Business owners and employees should review NFPA 51B: Standard for Fire Prevention During Welding, Cutting, and Other Hot Work. Next, workers should take NFPA’s Hot Work Safety Certificate Online Training. This course provides information on relevant regulations and the risks and safety issues involved in hot work, and the hot work permit program requirements. Hot work permits help ensure that all regulations and safety guidelines are being met and include the following key benefits:
  • The workers performing hot work have a checklist of safety requirements
  • A second level of management authorization is provided
  • All hot work activities are recorded and people are notified as needed

What is a Hot Work Permit Form?

A hot work permit program includes a form that must be filled out and signed by the appropriate parties before any hot work can begin. The form should include the following:
  • The date
  • The start time
  • The location within the property
  • The name and signature of the person who will be doing the hot work
  • The signature of the person who has checked the project for safety and is authorizing the hot work
  • A checklist of key safety requirements for the area around the hot work, the hot work activities, and the hot work fire watch and fire monitoring

AmTrust also provides Hot Work Permit Program form. A permit is good for only one day, ensuring that safety requirements are met every day, for every project, and that workers do not become careless regarding safety requirements.

Hot Work Fire Safety Tips

It is important to follow fire safety regulations during hot work. The NFPA recommends businesses evaluate the hazards and then take the appropriate steps to control the potential problems at their organizations. Various safety regulations exist to reduce the risk of fires caused by hot work. Make sure to understand and utilize the industry best practices and safety regulations listed below when performing hot work.
  • NFPA 51B: Standard for Fire Prevention During Welding, Cutting and Other Hot Work: This standard covers safety measures that should be taken to prevent bodily injury, death and property damage arising from a fire or explosion caused by hot work.
  • OSHA 29 CFR 1910.252: This Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard covers safety during welding, cutting, and brazing operations. The standard includes requirements for removing fire hazards and the use of fire extinguishers, fireguards and firewatchers. Also, see OSHA 1915.14, 1915.503 and 1917.152.
  • Industry Best Practices: Companies in different industries may face particular hot work risks due to the work location, common hazards in the area and the type of hot work being performed. Follow industry best practices and OSHA safety guidelines.
  • Local Regulations: Review all local regulations for hot work safety requirements.

Control Hot Work Hazards

After reviewing safety regulations and before beginning hot work, remove the potential fire hazards. Control hot work dangers to your business by doing the following:
  • Consider alternatives to hot work when possible
  • Ensure that fire sprinkler systems, hoses and fire extinguishers are in place and in proper working condition
  • Have a way to call the fire department immediately
  • Remove all combustible materials and oily residues within a 35-foot radius of where the hot work will be performed
  • Consider the need for wetting the area, approved fire-resistant traps, and protecting openings or conveyors that may migrate sparks
  • Avoid performing hot work in open buildings or doing outdoor hot work on windy days
  • Use fire watch attendant(s) to monitor the area for fire
  • Continue monitoring the worksite for at least two hours after hot work is completed
  • Have a working fire extinguisher on hand
  • Hire qualified and competent contractors to evaluate hot work in confined spaces
  • Use a written Hot Work Permit for work outside of designated hot work areas

Loss Control Resources from AmTrust Financial

AmTrust's Loss Control Department provides a variety of commercial property safety resources and risk management solutions designed to keep your business and your employees safe. We have the expertise and the tools to identify the common hazards facing your operation and can help you decrease risk. For more information about our loss control services, please contact us today.

This material is for informational purposes only and is not legal or business advice. Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors. Coverages may vary by location. Contact your local RSM for more information.

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