Hot topic…

New report highlights danger of hot works.

According to a new report, there were 180 reported fires in the UK construction sector during 2018/19. And around 79 percent of them were the result of hot works.

Safety specialist CE Safety used a Freedom or Information request to obtain the details of those fires from the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service The data showed that there were 180 fires in the construction industry in 2018/19, a staggering 143 of which were the result of hot work. Fifty-one fires during this period were caused by welding or cutting equipment, 22 by manufacturing equipment and 23 by kilns or other services. These fires resulted in 21 casualties.

Hot work refers to any task that requires using open flames or applying heat or friction which may generate sparks or heat. More specifically, it is defined by the British Standards Institution (BSI) in BS 9999 as: “Any procedure that might involve or have the potential to generate sufficient heat, sparks or flame to cause a fire.” Examples of hot work includes welding, flame cutting, soldering, brazing, grinding and the use of other equipment incorporating a flame.

Hot work poses a particular threat within the construction sector as the cause of multiple fires in buildings.

Flying sparks are the principal risk posed by hot work and they can easily get trapped in cracks, pipes, gaps, holes and other small opening, where they could potentially smoulder and cause a fire to break out.

The debris and residue which hot work creates, such as flammable swarf, molten metals, slag, cinder and filings, are often combustible.

Hot work can cause pipes to substantially heat up and easily transfer – through the process of conduction – to another flammable surface and cause a fire.

Failure to remove flammable materials or substances from a surface before commencing work means that they could easily become hot and cause a fire.

In certain environments, there may be potentially explosive vapours or gases in the air which are highly combustible and could ignite if exposed to hot work. In a similar vein, hot work could generate fumes which, in turn, create an explosive atmosphere.

The consequences of these hazards can be severe and costly for any business. Injuries can result in workers taking time off work, while a serious fire could damage a building irreparably. Both of these could even lead to legal consequences under certain circumstances. Therefore, it is crucial to understand how to implement appropriate safety controls.

Read the full report here.