In preparation for this article, the events at Quinton, Oklahoma had not yet taken place. The cause of the fire is still unknown, it may not have been due to "Hot Work" but it is a reminder of the seriousness of industrial fires. It makes our hearts heavy to see events like this happen. Our thoughts are with the families that have been affected.
How do we minimize and prevent these things from happening? It almost always goes back to the basic's and implementing procedures that are already set in place. Keeping up with training, and having regular safety discussions with your team. This is essential for work that has little or no room for error.
Today's reminders have to do with Hot Work, the scope of this topic and the possible scenarios for potential fire, range from house work, restaurants, industrial fires and so on. Its up to each individual company, entity, to identify plausible scenarios and identify the standards and protocol for each.
Here are a few basics to start with:
Flammable, combustible, or ignitable materials are to be kept a minimum of 20 to 35 feet away from the hot work. Or the materials are to be covered with a flame-retardant coverings.
Hot work shall not be performed in flammable or potentially flammable atmospheres.
When normal fire prevention precautions are not sufficient during hot work, additional personnel shall be assigned to guard against fire during hot work and for sufficient time after work has been completed to ensure no fire hazard remains.
Employer's shall instruct all employees involved in hot work operations as to potential fire hazards and the use of firefighting equipment.
Personal Protective equipment is also necessary. Wear flame-resistant clothing when performing welding work or any other job function where flame-resistant PPE is required.
A trained Fire Watch should also be present for OSHA's listed circumstances. (Found in link.)
U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 4,440 structure fires involving hot work each year between the years of 2010-2014, according to NFPA's news report. Causing an average of 12 civilian deaths, 208 civilian injuries and $287 million in property damage.
These statistics and events are sobering reminders to keep in practice, good safety. To keep these discussions going with ourselves, and with our teams, and keep fires to a minimum.