HOT WORK AND FIRE WATCH SAFETY
Workers assigned as fire watch are the first line of defense in protecting other workers and property from harm during hot work. Hot work includes any activity involving riveting, welding, burning, grinding or use of power-actuated tools or similar fire- or spark-producing operations.
OSHA REQUIRES EMPLOYERS TO:
- provide workplaces that are free of recognized hazards.
- Select and provide required personal protective equipment at no cost to workers.
- Train fire watch workers about job hazards, including how to fight fires at their incipient (beginning stage).
SAFE WORK PRACTICES:
- Stay alert and be responsible to actively prevent and fight any incipient stage fires.
- Do not perform other duties in combination with fire watch activities while hot work is in progress.
- Have a clear view of and immediate access to all areas of hot work.
- Have the proper fire extinguisher or charged water hose ready for use.
- Ensure that you have the ability to communicate with workers in the area of hot work.
- Isolate or cover combustible materials that cannot be removed with fire-resistant blankets and flame-retardant chemical gels or solutions. Wet down the area surrounding hot work.
- Do not abandon the hot work area during breaks or interruptions, or at the end of work shifts, unless properly relieved.
- Continue fire watch duties for at least 30 minutes after completing hot work, unless released by your employer after a site inspection.
- Follow all confined space entry and hot work requirements established by your employer, the shipyard competent person (SCP), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)-certified Marine Chemist, or Coast Guard authorized person.
- Shut down any hot work activity deemed unsafe and take the appropriate corrective measures to restore and maintain safe conditions. Immediately address all concerns or refer questions to your employer or the SCP.
- Attempt to extinguish any incipient stage fires consistent with the fire protection equipment provided and your training.
- If a fire gets beyond the incipient stage, alert workers and activate the alarm, then exit the area.
FIRE PREVENTION AND HOT WORK PRECAUTIONS
PROPER EVALUATION AND PREPARATION OF THE WORK AREA INCLUDES:
- Review the Marine Chemist Certificate and/or Shipyard Competent Person Inspection Record and Hot Work Permits.
- Ensure adequate access/egrass, illumination and ventilation, keeping access/egress paths clear of ventilation equipment.
- Perform hot work in areas free of fire hazards, or where fire hazards have been controlled by physical isolation, fire watches, other positive means. All flammables (50 ft) and combustibles (35 ft) must be removed or protected.
- Ensure that adjacent spaces have been inspected, tested, and meet requirements for hot work.
- Ensure that the opposite side of decks and bulkheads where hot work is to take place are evaluated.
PROPER WORK SET-UP INCLUDES:
- Ensure that welding and burning equipment is properly grounded, inspected, and installed and that gas torches, gauges, and hoses are tested for leaks. Torches should have flash back arrestors.
- Ensure that suitable fire extinguishers are at the work area and that fire watches are present in all areas where needed.
REMEMBER, WHILE PERFORMING THE HOT WORK JOB YOU MUST:
- Ensure that additional hazards are not introduced into the work area. Employees performing hot work and Fire Watches must continuously monitor the work areas as the hot work operation progresses.
- Maintain proper housekeeping. Keep the area free from unprotected flammables and combustibles.
- Ensure that employees performing hot work, or other affected personnel, wear fire-resistant clothing and other appropriate protective equipment (PPE).
- Make frequent checks of employees who are working alone in confined or other isolated spaces.
AFTER THE HOT WORK JOB OR DURING EXTENDED BREAKS OF 15 MINUTES OR MORE:
- Remove torches and hoses from confined spaces. Never leave them unattended during breaks.
- Remove electrodes from electrode holder when not in use.
- Shut down or disconnect gas lines (oxygen and other flammable gases) at the source at the end of each shift. Remove the discharge end of each hose from confined or enclosed spaces that are no longer occupied.
- Monitoring hot work are for 30 minutes after work has been completed. (Unless the hot work supervisor has verified the conditions no longer warrant the monitoring).
SOLUTIONS TO REDUCE FIRE HAZARDS FROM HOT WORK:
- Conduct a job hazard analysis (JHA) evaluating specific work tasks, hazards, and necessary control measures. Where practical, use engineering and/or administrative controls.
- Use appropriate PPE for all exposed employees not adequately controlled by engineering or administrative controls.
- Identify and report potential unsafe working conditions related to hot work.
- Know and understand the hot work permit program.
- Post warning signs as appropriate.
- Keep access to the space clear and provide more than one access/egrass route (if possible)
- Employees performing hot work in a confined space should have a trained Fire Watch in constant sight and the ability to communicate any emergency outside the confined space.
- Inspect welding and cutting equipment before use (e.g. for ARC or GAS Welding/cutting).
- Depressurize oxygen and fuel gas cylinder lines when not in use
- Do not take oxygen and fuel gas cylinders into confined spaces.
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