Rise in fires caused by hot works at Scottish construction sites
In the Scottish construction industry during the 2018/19 period, there were 143 fires caused by hot works, including welding, kiln works, manufacturing equipment and other processes.
This figure was revealed following a Freedom of Information Request to the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service by health and safety training provider, CE Safety.
Hot works have been defined by the British Standards Institute (BSI) under BS999 as:
"Any procedure that might involve or have the potential to generate sufficient heat, sparks or flame to cause a fire."
This might include welding, soldering and use of blowtorches, cutting discs and grinding wheels.
More than one in three (51) of the hot works fires were caused by cutting equipment or welding, as well as 22 by manufacturing equipment, and 23 by kilns. In total, 21 people were injured in these fires.
PPE (personal protective equipment) such as welding masks and fire-resistant clothing protect workers to some extent. In addition, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has various safety procedures construction companies must follow to protect workers from high-risk hot works procedures.
Garry Ellis of CE Safety says that all workers who carry out hot works procedures:
“…must know what kind of hazards hot work presents and how to prevent it from causing harm."
One of the main risks from hot works are sparks that get trapped in pipes cracks, holes and gaps where they can smoulder and lead to a fire. In places where flammable vapours and gases are present, sparks can result in an explosion.