U.S. Department of Labor
Process: Hot Work
Hazard: Burns and Shocks
By its very nature hot work produces the potential for burn injuries. Burns resulting from hot sparks or molten welding slag falling into shoes and clothing are the most frequent burn injuries in shipyards. Burns resulting from worker contact with surfaces that have not yet cooled following hot work also occur.
Personal protective equipment in the form of eye, face, and head protection, leathers, gauntlet type gloves, and protective sleeves are the best protection from burn injuries. Cotton coveralls or long sleeve shirts and trousers should be worn, along with high top work boots. Taping trouser legs to boot tops offers additional protection from sparks and slag. Workers should position themselves or the work to minimize hot spark, or slag from falling on themselves or others. Posting signs or restricting access when falling sparks or hot material may present a hazard to employees passing underneath a work area is standard practice in many shipyards.
There are many potential hazards associated with welding. Shocks and burns account for most of the injuries to Inexperienced or inadequately trained workers.
Training is critical. Assigning a new worker to work with an experienced individual for a time is a frequently used technique. Because shipyard work is unique, many shipyards operate their own welding schools and provide initial training and periodic refresher classes for welders and burners with an emphasis on safety requirements. Training all shipyard workers in these hazards will help prevent injuries to other workers who may be working near or passing through areas where hot work is underway.
In arc welding and cutting operations, shocks or electrocution may result when work pieces or sub assemblies are not properly grounded. The subassemblies or work pieces may become energized placing all workers who come in contact with them at risk. In this photograph, the grounding clamp is not connected exposing this worker to the potential for electrical shock.
Ground cables must be connected to a structure that has been determined appropriate for this use, both in providing a continuous grounding path and necessary current carrying capacity. Additionally, when a single welding machine is used on multiple work pieces, the pieces should be bonded together. Standing in water or working in wet clothing or gloves significantly increases the risk of electrical shock. Establishing good work habits is the most effective means of preventing accidents resulting from improper grounding. Refer to OSHA standard 29 CFR 1915.56 for grounding requirements.