Fire is both a useful tool and a dangerous one. These days, electricity and piped gas have gone a long way to reducing the need to use naked flames, but in some environments, known as “hot works”, naked flames and everything which comes along with them (heat and sparks) are a fact of life. The most obvious example of this is welding, but there are many others from industrial air arc gouging to more creative jobs such as glass blowing. Here are some useful safety tips for managing these environments.

Have a process for ensuring that all equipment stays in good order

This is possibly the most fundamental point regarding keeping workers safe in a hot works environment and in many ways it is the easiest to manage. Anyone who is in charge of a situation, in which dangerous equipment is used, has a responsibility to familiarize themselves with the steps needed to store and move the equipment correctly so as to avoid users being put at risk by damaged tools. On a similar note, cleanliness and tidiness are vital in hot works environments. Spills and debris need to be dealt with promptly, otherwise they can easily lead to accidents.

Have a process for ensuring that all workers are appropriately trained

It is an employer’s responsibility to make sure that their employees have all the necessary knowledge and skills to keep them safe in their working environment. This involves everything from basic health and safety procedures to the safe handling of any and all equipment they use.  Some workers may already possess relevant industry certification, in which case the employer needs to be able to demonstrate that they checked to confirm this, other workers may need to be provided with training. Again, the employer will need to have records which prove that this training was actually provided. In many cases, workers will have a combination of pre-existing training and skills gaps and/or may need to have their certification revalidated on a periodic basis. Effective systems are therefore essential to guarantee safe working and compliance with legislation.

Have a process for ensuring the suitable deployment and maintenance of safety equipment

Basic safety equipment such as fire extinguishers and first aid kits takes on a whole new level of importance in a hot works environment. Of course, they are only of any use in the real world, if there are people who know how to use them, which brings us back to the point about training above. You also need a process for keeping track of when accidents have happened, partly because it is a legal requirement, partly so that you can replenish supplies when necessary (e.g. restock first aid kits) and partly because this will give you useful data on which to base further health-and-safety-related decisions.

Have a process for ensuring that workers are provided with relevant safety wear

Safety Boots, gloves, goggles, protective hats, hi-vis clothing, there are all kinds of different sorts of safety wear available for use in different situations.

Undertake a risk assessment of the given environment(s) in which you operate and ensure that all workers are provided with any safety wear they require.