Hot Work Accidents
Hot work is a process that is done to bend, shape or forge metal while it is heated. It may include welding, cutting, brazing, and grinding as well as any type of work that uses a spark or other source of ignition. Performing these tasks may be considered dangerous in the best of conditions. However, when welding or doing other jobs on a ship or oil rig, there may be more risks than usual. This work requires heat producing tools to be used to repair ships and to work on tanks, containers, and structures.
There are various possible hazards of performing hot work. These include:
- Burns from explosions or fires
- Burns from flash fires or explosions
- Injuries due to noise
- Harm caused by exposure to UV light
- Injuries due to welding fumes
- Harm caused by improperly stored cylinders
- Injuries to hands or fingers
- Harm due to flying metal fragments
These injuries may occur for a number of reasons. Explosions and fire can happen when welding too close to flammable substances or because of working in conditions that are confined and not properly ventilated. A flash explosion may occur where there is a buildup of combustible gas.
OSHA Safety Requirements
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) oversees safety procedures that are used to prevent accidents and injuries. Precautions must be taken to guard against unsafe conditions. Welding and other similar tasks should be performed only in a suitable place where there are no fire hazards. Guards must be used to contain sparks and flames.
When possible, perform welding tasks away from dangerous areas. The area should be monitored with a gas detector before and during welding tasks. Whenever there is the presence of combustible gas that is more than 10 percent of the lower explosive level (LEL) of the substance, work should not proceed. Workers must wear adequate protective gear. The equipment must be tested prior to starting the job.
Additional safety precautions include making sure that fire extinguishing equipment is available and ready to use. This may include a fire extinguisher, buckets with sand or water, and hoses. The area should have “no smoking” signs posted. Hot work should only be performed when there is a fire safety watch crew available to ensure safety and immediately handle any accidents that occur.
Accidents caused by welding and other hot work can cause serious bodily harm and could result in death. The company is responsible for providing safe working conditions. They must have procedures in place to comply with OSHA safety standards. If the company fails to comply with safety requirements, it could be negligent if an accident occurs. These types of accidents may happen at shipyards, on oil rigs or in any other area where work is being performed.
Burn injuries are among the most painful and require immediate medical attention. The company must have a procedure in place to quickly provide medical care to injured workers. If the company fails to take proper safety precautions or does not follow the law, the injured worker may be able to file a legal claim to get compensation for hospital expenses and other costs associated with the accident.