How to prevent fires caused by welding, cutting and other hot work
The use of open-flame and spark producing devices for welding, cutting and other hot work is among the leading causes of fires and explosions in North America. Even though it can be dangerous, hot working is also an integral part of many businesses. If yours falls under this category, consider improving employee safety by setting up a hot work area.
Hot work safety tips
- Seamless, sealed, non-combustible walls and floors will help prevent sparks from escaping the hot work area.
- Always keep a serviced fire extinguisher handy and train staff to properly use it.
- Keep flammable liquids and combustibles at least 11 meters (35 feet) from the hot work area.
- Use thermal barriers to protect flammable liquids and combustibles that can’t be removed.
- Sweep the surrounding area before hot working and wet the floors if they’re combustible.
- Make sure no one is ever performing hot work alone in the shop.
- Stop all hot working activity 30 minutes before lunch, breaks and end of day. It can take a while for flammable items to combust so have someone there to put the fire out just in case.
- Regularly maintain and clean the area to keep it in proper working order.
- Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to any employees in the hot work area.
- Don’t perform any others tasks that create flammable vapours or combustible dust while hot work is taking place – even if it’s well away from the hot work area.
- Install welding curtains, screens and an exhaust system, if necessary.
Hot work program: Establishing firm policies and guidelines on hot work safety will help keep staff safe while hot working and make it easier for new employees to learn safety techniques. In can be a part of your general safety or loss prevention program.
Hot work checklist: Put a safety checklist up in your shop based on the tips above to help employees make sure they’re taking all the proper safety precautions before hot working.
Insurance policy: Tips, checklists, extinguishers other prevention strategies aren’t always enough to protect your business from a fire. In case you ever experience a fire-related loss, commercial general liability insurance can help you recoup damage costs and help get your company back on its feet.