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Hot Work Accidents

Hot work includes jobs where welding, burning, brazing, or the use of spark-producing tools is involved. All of these jobs are necessary, but they bring on the potential danger of a burn injury. Sometimes, maritime workers need to perform hot work in hollow or enclosed structures that are not large enough for them to enter.

Some of these hollow or enclosed structures are located in shipyards and often need hot works attention include: drums, pipes, piping systems, bilge keels, lampposts, inaccessible voids, sealed bulkheads, hatches, coamings, skegs, rudders, pipe stanchions, lapped-plates, doubler-plates, masts, booms, rub-rails, mooring bitts, bollards, vents, container frames, cargo lids, sponsons, buoys, container frames, box girders, cargo lids, and floats.

Explosions & Fire Hazards from Hot Works

Whenever an employee is performing hot works, there is a risk of a fire or explosion. Oftentimes flammable materials can catch fire when they react with a spark. In addition to sparking a fire or an explosion, these flammable materials may release toxic vapors which can have a widespread effect. These toxic gases normally contain dangerous chemicals which can produce medical conditions in workers.

Sometimes the chemicals can also aggravate an already present medical condition. Combustible preservatives will explode when they come into contact with a spark from a hot works project. A danger specific to maritime hot works is the risk of salt water causing metal surfaces to rust. This rust will then release of hydrogen gas, which can sometimes facilitate a fire or an explosion when the gas reacts with a flame. Also, fuel oil on ships or solvents, degreasers, and cleaning chemicals may leak from their storage units and react with the sparks from hot works.

Protection from Hot Works Injuries

If you are going to be doing hot work on a ship, then it is important that you abide by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines for hot workers. If your employer or supervisor does not ensure that you are being careful and safe, then you may have the right to seek compensation for negligence.

Individuals working with hot works are always required to wear personal protective equipment for their eyes, face, torso, extremities, and respiratory system. This rule is applicable for all those that are welding, burning, cutting, or brazing in a way that produces heat or sparks. OSHA also demands that workers check an area to make sure that there are no combustible materials before starting work. If there are combustible materials nearby, they need to be covered or isolated before work can continue.

Also, all sampling ports on the ship must be opened to drain the residual from the hot words. A shipyard competent person needs to inspect a structure and test for flammable vapors or liquids before allowing hot works. If there are no sampling ports near the location where the workers will be doing their job, then authorities will need to make sure that a small hole is drilled into the structure to allow for air sampling and testing.

If there are flammable vapors, liquids, or preservatives in the location and the gas reading is above 10% of the lower explosive limit, then workers must drill a second hole in the structure to allow the vapors to dissipate. Work cannot continue until the lower explosive limit is under 10%. After the structure has been ventilated, it must be tested against by a professional before hot work can be performed. If you are injured in a hot works accident and suffer a burn injury or an injury from an explosion because the OSHA hot works instructions were not followed, then you need to contact an offshore injury attorney at Arnold & Itkin today for more information!

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