Don’t Give Hot Work Procedures the Cold Shoulder

What if you were boarding an airplane and peeked into the cockpit while the pilot was going through his pre-flight checklist. He says, “I flew this bird yesterday. I know she’s in good shape. And, I know what the airline wants to hear,” as he fills out the form, “Let’s just get going.”

Of course, that sounds ridiculous to your ears. I hope it never happens, but “pencil whipping” does happen in workplaces and that can result in property loss, injury and even death. 

A hot work checklist is just as important as a pre-flight checklist. It’s a list of things that need to be considered before you start hot work. Hot work can be defined as “work that involves open flame, sparks and heat-producing activities.”

You might be rolling your eyes and dismissing this as “busy work,” but I assure you that it’s not. I did a study for ISRI last year that indicated that more than 20% of fires in our industry are caused by hot work. These are the big fires that happen after we leave because an ember or spark was left behind.  They burn down a whole building or burn up a whole piece of equipment. So, it’s important to know the hazards and be proactive.

Please, review your hot work procedures and make sure your written program includes:

  • a) The duties of those workers authorized to verify that conditions are acceptable for hot work to be performed and issue hot work permits;
  • b) The types of fire suppression equipment used at the facility;
  • c) The training and safe work practices required for those employees who perform hot work or stand fire watch;
  • d) The locations onsite, known as non-permissible areas, where hot work is not permitted due to the severity of nearby hazards, and;
  • e) The format of hot work permits used at the facility as well as an overview of the system used to issue and manage the permitting process.

Take hot work seriously and assure these elements are in your Fire Prevention Plan. Make sure every new hire is engaged in your culture of safety from the outset. 

Still not convinced? Read this cautionary tale and it might change your mind. I hope you never experience a workplace tragedy like the one described in this article.  That fatality could have been prevented and you can avoid future accidents at your facility.

Remember, I am always here to support your fire safety efforts and eager to help in any way possible.

In safety,
Kenn

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