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Hot work hazards and safety tips

Every employment has its particular set of dangers, and those who have hot-work jobs in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. are faced with a number of challenges as they perform their daily tasks. Hot work, such as grinding, soldering, brazing, cutting, burning and welding, puts workers in risk of burns from possible ignition if sparks come in contact with combustible or flammable materials nearby. Flammable gas leaks from hot work equipment and other sources can fill the area and lead to an explosion as well.

Workers can be involved in an explosion or fire, which can lead to severe, life-threatening burns and other injuries. Those who suffer grinding-related injuries can lose a limb, finger or hand in the grinding wheel. Portable grinders have been known to send out pieces of flying metal filings, which can seriously injure employees as well.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration advises hot work employers to ensure their employees perform hot work tasks in safe work environments. Fire hazards such as combustible materials and flammable vapors should never be in the same area where hot work is occurring, and the area should be protected with guards that keep slag, sparks and heat contained. Any immovable fire hazards should be protected as well. Employers are also urged to keep fire-extinguishing equipment within the reach of the employees in case of an emergency. One individual should be assigned to keep watch whenever hot work is taking place.

Most workers in these types of occupations who are injured on the job are eligible to apply for workers' compensation benefits, which can include medical treatment as well as in some cases partial wage replacement. They might want to meet with an attorney to learn about how to prepare and file a claim.

Source: Safety and Health, "Staying safe when performing hot work", Nov. 27, 2016

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