From Larson Electronics
Depending on the type of work being conducted, a hot work permit is essential to promoting safety in hazardous locations. Hot work is defined as tasks performed that involve fire hazards, such as welding, tasks using spark-producing equipment, cutting, grinding, soldering, etc. To reduce risks related to combustion, businesses require workers to hold a hot work permit, while conducting work in the applicable location.
Hot Work Program
A business must establish the proper procedures, guidelines and steps for the applicable hot work program. The program should be designed specifically for operations and hazardous elements present in the location. For example, most businesses require 35 feet of space between hot work and ignitable compounds, while other establishments may require 50 feet. Furthermore, some groups may require a gas meter to be present before conducting hot work. A successful hot work program incorporates relevant safety guidelines and procedures, based on OSHA and NFPA standards.
With this in mind, for work in confined spaces, a hot work program may indicate that the atmosphere must be monitored to ensure adequate oxygen levels. Generally speaking, all hot work programs must be documented in writing, require an inspector to view the site before commencing work and require participants to hold necessary permits for verification of inspection and approval.
Applying for a Hot Work Permit
At the other end of the process, workers, contractors and related individuals performing hot work must apply for and acquire a hot work permit. It is important to point out that every worker participating in the project is required to hold a hot work permit. If there are three different professionals conducting hot work during a maintenance activity, each worker must obtain a hot work permit for his respective role.
The permits are issued by relevant hot work permit authorities or departments assigned to oversee such aspects of the project. Using Michigan Tech University as an example, the Facilities Department building zone manager is responsible for issuing hot work permits to workers for tasks within the school.
The validity and restrictions of the hot work permit can be found on the document. It is common practice for a copy of the permit to be present at the work site until the tasks are completed. Contractors, project managers and onsite inspectors must ensure hot work guidelines on the permit are properly and thoroughly observed.
Hot Work Permit Solutions
Hot work programs are designed to educate permit holders about best practices in handling equipment and performing hot work tasks. Because these programs incorporate relevant safety guidelines, most of the solutions offered for dangerous encounters are straightforward and effective. For instance, a fire watcher may be assigned to the location to monitor fire-related hazards, as recommended in OSHA 29 CFR 1910.252(a)(2)(iii)(A).
During operation, workers who use non-classified equipment may apply explosion proof plugs to ensure compliance. For such applications, an explosion proof adapter is commonly applied, with one end consisting of an explosion-proof plug and the other consisting of a general area female connector. This solution is considered to be more cost effective than converting non-classified equipment with explosion proof features.
This article is reprinted with permission from Larson Electronics, Kemp, Texas. For more information, visit www.larsonelectronics.com.