WorkSafe Victoria recently issued a safety alert about the risks associated with hot works, after a hopper liner and screen caught fire at a quarry.
The fire started while bolts were being cut with an oxy-acetylene torch during maintenance activities, and emergency services were required to extinguish the fire.
Hot work is any work that has the potential to ignite nearby combustible, flammable or explosive material.
Common hot work tasks include welding, cutting, grinding and heat treatment, and hot work processes can create hazards such as:
These hazards create a serious risk to employees’ health and safety that can lead to injury, illness and death.
For example, burns from heat radiation or contact with flames, sparks, molten metal or hot surfaces, and exposure to hazardous fumes.
Hot work processes have the potential to ignite fires that can travel beyond site boundaries, such as grass or bush fires.
Fires may also start well after the completion of any hot work activities due to residual heat.
The alert recommended a number of control measures when undertaking hot works:
Quarry operators must also be aware of any restrictions that apply during fire danger periods or total fire ban days.
The Australian Standard AS/NZS 1674.1:1997 – Safety in welding and allied processes Part 1: Fire Precautions may be of benefit when identifying and controlling risks.