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Figure 1: Hot Work in Enclosed Spaces
Figure 1: Hot Work in Enclosed Spaces. Also see: Fire Watches, Establishing Rescue Teams, Ventilation, Warning Signs and Labels, and Hot Work.
Welder Fire Watch Fire Watch Rescue Teams Rescue Teams Labels Labels Ventilation

Fire Watches, Establishing Rescue Teams, Ventilation, Warning Signs and Labels, and Hot Work

Hot work in shipyards is often performed in enclosed spaces that may expose workers to hazards. Listed below are the specific safety and health requirements for the majority of hot work operations. (Please see additional requirements for hot work in confined spaces and other locations.)

Specific Safety and Health Requirements

Note: Confined space entry is one of the leading hazards associated with barge cleaning. Review the Shipbuilding: Confined or Enclosed Spaces and Other Dangerous Atmospheres chapter for information on how to protect workers from this hazard. Also, this module, outlining the requirements for Hot Work in Enclosed Spaces, should be reviewed before reviewing the modules regarding hot work requirements for Confined Spaces and Other Locations.

Figure 2: Reviewing of Marine Chemist Certificate

Potential Hazards

Workers performing hot work or working in spaces adjacent to hot work are exposed to the following risks:

  • Fire and explosions caused by flammable or combustible materials or airborne gases, vapors, and particulates
  • Toxic gases and metal fumes produced from the hot operations (such as nitrogen oxides, and lead fumes)
  • Ultraviolet radiation from electric arcs
Figure 3: Removing of flammable and combustible material

Requirements and Example Solutions

Before beginning hot work, the following tasks must be performed:

Figure 6: Leak test

Remember: When hot work is being performed, it is the employers' responsibility to ensure that precautions are taken in adjacent spaces. [29 CFR 1915 Subpart P]

Figure 7: Burner wearing respirator, tinted face shield and leather gloves
Figure 8: Welding UV screens
Figure 9: Welding torch
Figure 10: Inspection to maintain safe conditions

Potential Hazard

When the work space is initially inspected by a Certified Marine Chemist (CMC) or a Shipyard Competent Person (SCP), conditions may change during work. The Shipyard Competent Person must inspect the hot work area as often as necessary. If the Shipyard Competent Person discovers a change that could adversely alter safe conditions (such as a missing fire watch, ventilation failure, piping system leak, or hazardous materials spill), work must be stopped. Work may not be resumed until the affected space is visually inspected and re-evaluated (by a Marine Chemist, if a marine chemist certificate was issued) to meet requirements. [29 CFR 1915.15(f)]

Requirements and Example Solutions

Examples of items that can change conditions include

  • Temperature changes: increased or decreased temperatures affect flammable and toxic vapor levels.
  • Type of work in tank: leaking torches, use of cleaning solvents, and removal of tank residue ("mucking out") may alter atmosphere.
  • Unattended tanks or spaces: if a period of time has elapsed, it is recommended that spaces be retested before re-entry and continuation of work. [29 CFR 1915 Subpart A and Subpart B]
  • Ballasting or trimming: changing the position of the vessel could release hazardous materials into a space or compartment.
  • Ventilation changes: ventilation duct damage or fans not in use.
  • Maritime Labor/Industry recommends that tests before re-entry and continuation of work in unattended tanks and spaces should be conducted at the beginning of the shift and then at least every 24 hours.

Potential Hazard

Fall hazards are a leading cause of shipyard fatalities. Shipyard employees are often required to work in dangerous environments that may include fall hazards. Accidents involving elevation equipment such as ladders, scaffolds, and aerial lifts are often serious, even fatal. Workers also risk falls from open deck edges.

Requirements and Example Solutions

Guarding of Deck Openings and Edges

  • Openings and deck edges must be guarded. [29 CFR 1915.73]
  • Flush manholes and other small openings must be guarded after opening. [29 CFR 1915.73(b)]
  • During the installation of guards on large openings and deck edges, fall protection (harness with lanyard) must be used. [29 CFR 1915.73(d)]
  • When floor plates or gratings (e.g. bilges, engine rooms, pump rooms, machinery spaces) are removed, the openings must be guarded or planked. [29 CFR 1915.73(f)]

Fall Protection for Scaffold Work

  • Guardrails or other appropriate fall protection must be used when working on scaffolds 5 feet above surfaces. [29 CFR 1915.71(j)]
  • During the installation of guards on scaffolds, fall protection must be used. [29 CFR 1915.73(d)]
  • Maritime Labor/Industry recommends that personal fall protection including lanyards and harnesses be used and secured during installation of guardrails and erection and dismantling of scaffolds.
Figure 11: Local exhaust ventilation being properly used

Potential Hazard

Workers performing hot work operations are exposed to toxic gases and metal fumes (such as nitrogen oxides, zinc, or iron oxide fumes) that may cause occupational illnesses.

Figure 12: Air movers providing general ventilation to confined spaces

Requirements and Example Solutions

Ventilation removes or dilutes metal fumes and gases generated by hot work. The following ventilation requirements must be met:

Figure 13: Typical gas manifold

Potential Hazard

Workers performing hot work in enclosed spaces are exposed to the risk of fires from ignition of flammable or combustible materials in the space and from leaks of flammable gas into the space from hot work equipment.

Figure 14: Fire watch

Requirements and Example Solutions

Fires caused by hot work in enclosed spaces can be prevented with the following precautions:

Note: When hot work is being performed, it is the employers' responsibility to ensure that precautions are taken in adjacent spaces. [29 CFR 1915 Subpart P]

Figure 15: Respiratory protection

Potential Hazard

Injury and illness may be caused by hot work (such as welding fumes, UV light, sparks, noise, skin injury, etc.).

Figure 16: Welding PPE

Requirements and Example Solutions

Personal protective equipment is used during hot work to protect workers. A PPE program consists of the following:

For more specific information, see PPE Selection: Hot Work.