Construction firms have been warned about the dangers of hot works after research indicated it was to blame for 79% of all fires on sites in Scotland last year.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service responded to 180 fires in the industry during 2018/19, and 143 were found to be as a result of hot works. Some 51 fires were caused by welding or cutting equipment, 22 by manufacturing equipment, and 23 by kilns or other services. The fires resulted in 21 casualties.
Safety firm CE Safety obtained the figures via a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. Senior consultant Gary Ellis said: “A variety of industries, construction in particular, may require hot work to be carried out in their premises as part of routine work activities. It is also frequently carried out as part of contractual work, which is common in construction. However, no matter who does it, they must know what kind of hazards hot work presents and how to prevent it from causing harm.”
The main risk from hot works are flying sparks that can become trapped in cracks, pipes, gaps, holes and other small openings where they can potentially smoulder and cause the outbreak of fire.
Hot works can also cause pipes to heat up and transfer through the process of conduction to another flammable surface. Failure to remove flammable materials or substances from a surface before starting work means they can easily become hot and cause a fire.
In certain environments, there may be potentially explosive vapours or gases in the air which are highly combustible and could ignite if exposed to hot work.
CE Safety urged companies undertaking hot works to follow the safety procedures set out by BS 9999 and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).