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Mitigating risk posed by hot work


Mitigating risk posed by hot work

Defined as an activity that produces sparks, flames or heat, hot work carries inherent risks that could lead to injury or death in some situations. South Carolina employees who are required to perform hot work may want to be aware of some of the most significant hazards and take steps to mitigate the possibility of adverse results.

A broad category, hot work includes any task that creates heat through friction, and one of the biggest risks associated with hot work is the potential for fire. Failure to take the appropriate precautions when engaged in jobs that involve cutting, grinding, welding, drilling, soldering and brazing could have potentially catastrophic results. Even the seemingly innocuous task of thawing pipes could ultimately result in a fatality.

To address the fire hazard, safety organizations recommend that involved individuals start by asking whether the hot work is necessary and determining whether any viable alternatives are available. If a decision is made to move forward with the task, it should ideally be performed in a specifically designed and approved location that is maintained fire-safe. In the absence of such an area, the next step toward safety is the performance of a thorough hazard assessment, which can be managed through a permit process.

Published in 1962, the National Fire Protection Association’s 51B Standard for Fire Prevention During Welding, Cutting and Other Hot Work predates the existence of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration by almost 10 years. However, the number of recorded deaths and injuries related to hot work may indicate a continuing lack of awareness of important requirements and safety procedures on the part of employers. People who have been injured in connection with hot work may find it beneficial to seek the help of an attorney who could help them pursue the workers’ compensation benefits to which they may be entitled.