Burning, cutting and welding operations (referred to as hot work) are commonly associated with renovation and construction activities. Potential health, safety, and property hazards result from the fumes, gases, sparks, hot metal and radiant energy produced during hot work. Hot work equipment, which may produce high voltages or utilize compressed gases, also requires special awareness and training on the part of the worker to be used safely. Arc welders are trained to take appropriate precautions to prevent the skin and eye burns that can occur as a result of exposure to the UV emitted during arc welding. However, it is also important to ensure that persons in the vicinity of the welding operations are prevented from entering areas where arc welding is occurring and are warned not to stare at the arc. The hazards associated with hot work can be reduced through the implementation of effective control programs.
Preparing Hot Work Areas
Areas where hot work is done should be properly designated and prepared. Combustible and flammable materials within the work area should be protected against fire hazards and the operation should not pose a hazard to others in nearby areas. To help achieve this, the following controls should be used:
- Cutting and welding operations are performed only by authorized, properly trained individuals;
- If possible, hot work must be performed in a properly designed shop area equipped with all necessary controls and adequate ventilation;
- Move combustible materials at least 35 feet from the work site. If this is not possible, protect combustible materials with metal guards or by flameproof curtains or covers (other than ordinary tarpaulins);
- Cover floor and wall openings within 35 feet of the work site to prevent hot sparks from entering walls or falling beneath floors or to a lower level;
- Fire resistant curtains and/or tinted shields must be used to prevent fire, employee burns, and ultra-violet light exposure.
The following sections provide further guidance when conducting cutting and welding on the Princeton University Campus.