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Work Processes Involving Heat

You need to take special care if heat is used in conjunction with flammable materials, such as when cooking with fats. Ducts serving food grinders, cookers and ovens should be kept clean to avoid a build-up of grease. Gas- and oil-burning plant, including fuel storage tanks where appropriate, should be installed in accordance with the appropriate standards. Such plant should be properly operated and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. In particular, emergency fuel cut-off devices should be periodically checked to ensure they work and flues inspected regularly and cleaned as necessary.

Hot work

Activities such as welding, flame cutting, use of blow lamps or portable grinding equipment can pose a serious fire hazard and need to be strictly controlled when carried out in areas near flammable materials. This can be done by having a written permit to work for the people involved (whether they are your employees or those of a contractor).

A permit to work is appropriate in situations of high hazard/risk and, for example, where there is a need to:

  • ensure that there is a formal check confirming that a safe system of work is being followed;
  • co-ordinate with other people or activities;
  • provide time-limits when it is safe to carry out the work; and
  • provide specialised personal protective equipment (such as breathing apparatus) or methods of communication.

Any employees or contractors employed to carry out hot work should know that they cannot begin work until the person issuing the permit to work has explained the safety precautions fully. Hand-over of the permit should be recorded - usually by both the person issuing the permit and the person receiving it signing it. Any location where 'hot work' is to take place should be examined to make sure that all material which could be easily ignited has either been removed or has been suitably protected against heat and sparks. Suitable fire extinguishers should be readily available and a check made to ensure that people carrying out the work know how to use them and how to raise the alarm.

Where automatic fire detection equipment is installed and is likely to be actuated by heat, smoke or dust etc produced from the hot work, the detectors should be isolated for the duration of the work and reinstated immediately after work is finished.

The essential requirements of a permit to work form

The essential requirements of a permit to work form

The permit to work should therefore contain the following details:

  • measures to make sure all flammable material has been removed from the work area or, if it cannot be removed, adequately protected from heat or sparks;
  • the fire-fighting equipment to be available in the work area;
  • the permitted time span of the activity and the level of supervision required; and
  • the actions to be taken when the work is finished, including initial and subsequent checks that there are no smoldering or hot materials which could allow a fire to break out at a later time.

Cylinders of flammable gases and oxygen should not be taken into confined spaces because of the risk of serious fire or explosion from a build-up of fuel gases, e.g. from a leak. All hot work equipment should be removed from the confined space whenever work stops - even for a break.

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