Hot Work Management


No employee of the University, contractor hired by the University, or subcontractor hired by the contractor shall perform any hot work unless a hot work permit is obtained prior to hot work commencing. Hot work is defined as any temporary operation involving open flames or producing heat/sparks which includes, but is not limited to brazing, oxygen cutting, grinding, soldering, arc welding/cutting, oxy-fuel gas welding, hot taps, and torch applied roofing that are capable of initiating fires or explosions during construction, renovation, or maintenance work activities.

Back to top

Authority and Responsibility

Facilities Operations for non-BSD campus buildings, Physical Plant for BSD campus buildings in which they provide services, and Facilities Services Capital Project Delivery shall follow the procedures below to comply with this policy.

The area in which hot work is performed shall be returned to a safe accessible condition free of work material and other combustible work material.

Facilities Operations Shop Supervisors and Physical Plant are responsible for:

  1. Notifying all employees of the purpose and intent of the Hot Work Management policy;
  2. Making periodic inspections of areas where the hot work procedures are being used;
  3. Responding to hot work permit requests and issuing hot work permits for operations and maintenance work in a timely manner;
  4. Stopping all hot work in the event of an unsafe condition;
  5. Recording all hot work permits issued into a shared database (Facilities Operations) or sending an electronic copy to (Physical Plant); and
  6. Ensuring required Facility Operation and Physical Plant personnel have completed initial hot work permit and recurring fire safety training.

Facilities Services Capital Project Delivery and University of Chicago Medicine’s Facilities Design and Construction is responsible for:

  1. Notifying all contractors of the purpose and intent of the Hot Work Management policy;
  2. Making periodic inspections of areas where the hot work procedures are being used;
  3. Contacting Environmental Health and Safety to request hot work permits for projects 24 hours in advance for campus buildings;
  4. Contacting Environmental Health and Safety when a hot work permit requires renewal; and
  5. Collecting expired hot work permit from the contractor when the work is complete and informing EHS to close out the work order.

Contractors and sub-contractors are responsible for:

  1. Following the University’s Hot Work Management policy and all OSHA requirements;
  2. Complying with the procedures defined within the policy and on the permit;
  3. Supplying an approved fire extinguisher, providing fire watch, and required personal protective equipment; and
  4. Signing off on the hot work permit.

Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) is responsible for:

  1. Responding to requests for hot work permits and renewals for capital projects in a timely manner;
  2. Reviewing the Hot Work Management policy to ensure compliance;
  3. Providing training of affected employees;
  4. Auditing departments issuing hot work permits on a quarterly basis;
  5. Reviewing the hot work database to identify trends; and 
  6. Closing out hot work permits when notified by Facilities Services Capital Project Delivery.

University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) is responsible for:

  1. Providing periodic monitoring for 3 hours after hot work has been performed in areas not monitored by a centrally monitored fire detection system; and
  2. Providing an after-hours fire guard when directed by EHS in areas determined to require a fire watch in accordance with this policy.

Off Site Facilities (Ricketts Laboratories, Press Warehouse, and Yerkes Observatory):

  1. Off-site facilities will notify all affected employees of the purpose and intent of the Hot Work Management policy;
  2. Making periodic inspections of areas where the hot work procedures are being used;
  3. Responding to hot work permit requests and issuing hot work permits for contract personnel;
  4. Stopping all hot work in the event of an unsafe condition; and,
  5. Recording all hot work permits issued into a shared database with EHS or sending an electronic copy to

Back to top


Prior to starting a project that requires hot work, Facilities Services Capital Project Delivery contractor/subcontractor performing the hot work shall obtain a hot work permit from Environmental Health and Safety.  Employees and contractors performing operational and maintenance work shall obtain a hot work permit from the appropriate Facilities Services Shop Supervisor.

Note: Soldering does not require a hot work permit, but the following procedures shall be adhered to:

  1. A safe area radius of 35 feet should be established prior to initiating hot work, if possible;
  2. All readily combustible materials shall be removed or covered with a protective blanket, floors shall be swept clean of wood shavings, paper clippings, textile materials, etc.;
  3. All cracks in walls, floors, or ducts shall be covered; and
  4. Fire extinguisher shall be present.


To have Environmental Health and Safety issue a project related hot work permit, contact the Environmental Health and Safety at 773.702.9999 at least 24 hours prior to the start of the project.  For operational and maintenance related hot work permits, contact Facilities Services Shop Supervisor at 773.834.1414 prior to the start of work.

Back to top

Job Site Inspection

Prior to the issuance of the hot work permit, Environmental Health and Safety and Facilities Services Supervisors shall inspect the job site to determine if the hot work can be avoided. If the hot work involves open flame cutting, an alternative method of conducting the work shall be considered (e.g., hand saw, pipe cutter). If an alternative method is not feasible, Environmental Health and Safety and Facilities Services Supervisors shall further ensure the hot work site is safe. All hot work job sites are inspected using the checklist contained within the hot work permit. Items included in the job site review include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Hot work operator(s)/fire watch are trained in the safe operation of their equipment;
  2. Apparatus used for the hot work is in good condition;
  3. Hot work operator(s)/fire watch understand the emergency procedures in the event of a fire or general emergency;
  4. Fire protection and extinguishing equipment is properly located on-site;
  5. Operator(s) are utilizing personal protective equipment; and
  6. The proposed work does not jeopardize the health and safety of the operator or others.

If the aforementioned criteria are not met, a permit shall not be issued until all concerns are corrected.

If there are automatic fire detection devices present in the immediate area that need to be deactivated to prevent alarms, follow normal impairment procedures to ensure reactivation of the system. Refer to the Fire Detection Systems policy.

Back to top

Fire Watch

Environmental Health and Safety requires a fire watch when hot work is performed in a location where the following condition(s) exist:

  1. Combustible materials in building construction or building contents are closer than 35 feet to the point of operation of the hot work;
  2. Combustible materials are more than 35 feet away, but are easily ignited by sparks;
  3. Wall or floor openings within a 35 feet radius expose combustible materials in adjacent areas, including concealed spaces in walls or floors; and
  4. Combustible materials are adjacent to the opposite side of partitions, walls, ceiling, or roofs and are likely to be ignited.

The fire watch shall:

  1. Be aware of the inherent hazards of the work site;
  2. Ensure safe conditions are maintained during the hot work operation;
  3. Have the authority to stop the hot work operations if unsafe conditions develop;
  4. Have fire extinguishing equipment immediately available and be trained on how to use it; and
  5. Activate emergency response in the event of a fire.

The fire watch shall be maintained during all breaks and 30 minutes after completion of the hot work operation in order to detect and extinguish smoldering fires on the floors above, below and adjacent to the hot work site if applicable.

Back to top

Permit Posting

The hot work permit is in duplicate. The top copy shall be retained and entered in the operational database and the bottom copy shall be posted in a visible location within the hot work site near the hot work equipment.

Back to top


Propane gas shall not be used for hot work in any occupied University buildings.

Hot work shall not be permitted in the following areas until the conditions prohibiting hot work have been modified:

  1. In the presence of explosive atmospheres, or in situations where explosive atmospheres may develop inside contaminated or improperly prepared tanks or equipment which previously contained flammable liquids;
  2. In areas with an accumulation of combustible debris, dust, lint and oily deposits;
  3. In areas near the storage of exposed, readily ignitable materials such as combustibles;
  4. On a container such as a barrel, drum or tank that contained materials that will emit toxic fumes when heated; and
  5. In a confined space, until the space has been inspected and determined to be safe. Refer to the Confined Space Program.

Back to top

Protective Equipment

The welder shall be equipped with protective devices and/or apparel as indicated on the permit or as listed below:

  1. Portable and/or mechanical ventilation capable of keeping the levels of fumes, dust and gases below the thresholds established in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs). If local exhaust or general ventilation are not available and fume, dust and gas generation is high, respirators shall be used;
  2. Gloves, apron and/or jacket that are made of a material that is an insulator from heat and electricity;
  3. Welders helmets equipped with proper filter plate and cover lenses;
  4. Respiratory protection (NOTE: No employee shall be issued or be required to use a respirator until that employee has satisfied the criteria set forth in the Respiratory Protection Program;
  5. Screens to protect persons not properly protected from the visual effects of viewing arc welding or cutting and during gas or oxygen cutting or welding; and
  6. Lifelines and harnesses for work in confined spaces as set forth in the Confined Space Program.

Back to top

Storage of Equipment

Equipment and supplies shall be stored in a manner that will prevent the creation of hazardous conditions.

Back to top


If during the performance of assigned duties the welder becomes injured or suspects an occupational exposure occurred, such situations shall be reported in accordance with the Accident/Incident Reporting and Investigation Program.

Back to top


Employees shall be trained on all aspects of this policy.

Reviewed: January 2014

Back to top