Written by: Griffiths & Armour on: 02 Mar 2023
Hot Work Permit – is yours best practice?
Hot work is a major cause of loss to many businesses and the financial damage can be insurmountable.
Hot work is frequently used during construction projects, renovations and refurbishments, maintenance (including planned and emergency repair works), and where work is undertaken on roofs, buildings, plant, machines, etc. It is deemed to be a high risk activity and as such requires careful and conscientious management.
Many organisations are however naive to the potential risks and are unprepared and ultimately negligent when a hot work fire breaks out and/or when colleagues or contractors are harmed as a consequence of their actions.
What is hot work?
Hot work is any operation that involves open flames or the production of heat or sparks, or the local application of heat and friction. Examples include welding, grinding, soldering, blow torching, and use of bitumen boilers to name a few. It is essential that businesses and operatives understand what constitutes as hot works, to enable them to ensure that formal management procedures are in place and are followed.
These management procedures should cover such areas as the undertaking of risk assessments, the provision of suitable training, the vetting of contractors, the competency of operatives, monitoring and auditing, etc.; as well as the use of a Hot Work Permit, which is a vital component.
A Hot Work Permit is a form that if fit for purpose and used correctly, will act as an important tool to:
- Safeguard the works are performed safely and mitigate hazards.
- Reduce the risks.
- Protect the operative(s), others who may be in the vicinity/building, and the building itself.
- Ensure legal compliance.
The form does not need to be overly complicated; the content however needs to be suitable and must meet insurers’ requirements. The main area where this usually falls down is in relation to the ‘fire watch’. A fire watch is a period of time when a dedicated person (or persons) remain in attendance at the place where the hot works are and have been performed for a pre-determined period of time, to monitor the area and look for signs of fire. The difficult part here however is that the stance of different insurers varies on what this time window should be.
To assist in this regard, we would suggest following the advice of RISCAuthority (and published by the Fire Protection Association), who recommend the following:
“A continuous fire watch should be maintained for at least 60 minutes after work is completed, followed by further checks being made at regular intervals, of no more than 20 minutes, up to 120 minutes after cessation of hot work, before the permit is signed off. The fire watch periods should be extended where determined necessary by a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment.”
A sample Hot Work Permit is available via RMworks, the online risk management portal available to all clients of Griffiths & Armour.
If you have any questions about the contents of this article or would like to book a demo of RMworks, please click below to submit your enquiry to Risk Management Director, Cath Swindells.