- Identify the hazards of hot work.
- Describe the authorizations, area preparations and fire prevention methods you must have in place prior to performing hot work that can protect you and others from hot work hazards.
- Recognize how using proper PPE and implementing safe equipment preparation practices and start and stop practices can protect you and others from hot work hazards.
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Eye injuries are the most common serious occupational injury for welders at about 25% of total welding injuries, annually.
The term ‘hot work’ refers to any labor involving open flames or produces sparks, or can start a fire by other means. This typically includes welding, wheel or torch cutting, brazing, soldering, and grinding, but it can include other work.
Because this type of work poses such a unique combination of both safety and health hazards to workers, it requires a substantial amount of controls. Thankfully, by following proper procedures and using the controls that are in place, these hazards can be greatly reduced.
First, employees exposed to the hazards created by hot work operations need to be protected by personal protective equipment (PPE). For body protection, employees performing hot work need to wear fire retardant long-sleeved clothing without cuffs.
Sleeves and collars should be kept buttoned. Avoid clothing with tears, snags, rips, or worn spots that could easily be ignited by sparks. Welding “leathers” that include jackets, sleeves, aprons and gauntlet gloves are proven protective equipment.
Also, feet should be protected with high top leather shoes, preferably safety shoes. If low shoes are worn, the ankles should be protected by fire resistant leggings. Hot work employees and helpers should wear suitable protection for their heads, faces, and eyes depending on the particular job. You have to consider sparks and bits of hot metal and the damage they can cause in these scenarios; sparks can be more distracting than directly dangerous and may present new risk associated with inattention.
Again, a reminder here to make sure the personal protective equipment (PPE) used by the workforce is well-maintained and in working order. Welding helmets and hand shields protect the eyes, face, neck, and ears from the harmful radiation produced by the arc. Never use a welding helmet or shield if the filter plate or cover plate is cracked or broken. A flame-proof skull cap is recommended to protect the hair and head. Transparent face shields and ventilated goggles provide insulation from heat.
This is an overlooked bit of information, but because of the potential for fire, explosion, or health hazards, it is strongly recommend that no welding, cutting, or hot work be attempted on used drums, barrels, or tanks that have not been properly cleaned and purged—it is best to abundantly sure about what’s inside of these units before introducing any hot work.
Welding should never be done directly on a concrete floor. Heat from the arc can create steam from the moisture in the concrete which could cause an explosion. And if the welding operation must be done on steel or another conductive material, an insulating mat must be used under the welder. If the welding area is wet or damp or the welder is actively perspiring, then he should wear insulating rubber gloves under the welding gloves. The welding area should always be equipped with a fire blanket and a well-stocked first aid kit.
Finally, in noisy situations hearing protection is necessary.
For safety, encourage your workforce to use these following precautions to prevent electric shock when working with an electric arc welder:
- Make sure the workpiece is grounded.
- Insulation from the workpiece and ground using dry insulating materials is required.
- Wear dry, hole-free insulated gloves and body protection.
- A helmet must be worn if welding or watching welding work. Wear a helmet that is properly fitted and comfortable, with the properly shaded glass eyepiece filter to protect your face and eyes.
- Guarantee the welding area is well ventilated and use necessary respiratory equipment.
- Do not touch electrically energized (“hot”) parts or electrodes with bare skin, or wet clothing, or other conductive material.
- Do not allow heated weld areas to come into contact with exposed skin.
- If the wet area and welding operator cannot be insulated from the workpiece with dry insulation, use a semiautomatic, constant-voltage welder or stick welder with a voltage reducing device.
- Keep the electrode holder and lead cable insulation in good condition and do not use if the insulation is damaged or missing.
- Never dip an energized (“hot”) electrode holder in water.
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