Hot Work Management

Policy

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, maintenance work activities, research, and special events.

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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. Faculty and staff who anticipate using open flames in laboratories and special events shall also follow 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. Contacting Environmental Health and Safety to request Hot Work Permits for projects 24 hours in advance for campus buildings;
  4. Stopping all hot work in the event of an unsafe condition;
  5. When requested, isolate fire detection devices near hot work activity to prevent accidental activation of the fire alarm system; 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;
  5. Request fire detection system bypass in areas of hot work in accordance with the Fire Detection Systems policy; and
  6. 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 periodic basis;
  5. Reviewing the hot work database to identify trends; and 
  6. Closing out Hot Work Permits when notified by all requestors.

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

  1. When requested, provide periodic monitoring for three 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 or when requested by staff using DSS Event Security Event Services in areas determined to require a fire watch in accordance with this policy.

Off Site Facilities (Ricketts Laboratories, Gleacher Center, and Press Warehouse):

  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  safety@uchicago.edu

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Procedure

Hot work should be avoided whenever possible by considering alternative methods to hot work. An alternative method of conducting the work shall always be considered such as bolting or riveting rather than welding or cold cutting rather than using a cutting torch. When practical, objects to be welded, cut, or heated should be moved to a designated safe location (e.g., maintenance shops).

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.

If hot work must be performed, a Hot Work Permit shall be obtained prior to any work commencing by completing an online Hot Work Permit Request Form at least 24 hours prior to the start of the hot work.

In emergent circumstances, you may contact EHS at 773.702.9999 less than 24 hours’ notice for the following areas:

  • Operations and maintenance work in non-BSD campus buildings;
  • Operations and maintenance work in KCBD, BSLC, CLSC, and Kovler Laboratory BSD campus buildings;
  • Project related work in all campus buildings;
  • Laboratory hot work (other than research in a fume hood); and
  • Special events.

The Hot Work Permit is only good for the date specified on the permit and must be displayed at the work site during all hot work. The Hot Work Permit is in duplicate. The top copy shall be retained and entered in the operational database by end of business day and the bottom copy shall be posted in a visible location within the hot work site near the hot work equipment. All building occupants must be suitably protected against hazards generated by the work (e.g., heat, sparks, fumes, welding rays, odors).

Before hot work begins:

  • An appropriate fire extinguisher must be available and operable at the site of work being performed. Contractors shall provide their own fire extinguishers for hot work;
  • Flammable and ignitable materials and debris must be moved at least 35 feet from the hot work area or covered and protected from the hot work by fire resistant material (e.g., fire blanket) ;
  • Explosives, oxygen acetylene tanks, flammable liquids, compressed gas cylinders, or stored fuel must be moved at least 50 feet from the hot work area or covered and protected from the hot work by fire resistant material;
  • Smoke and fire detectors in the immediate area of the hot work must be temporarily disabled until the hot work is completed which can only be completed by Facilities Operations or Physical Plant;
  • Adequate ventilation must be provided, especially when cutting or welding material with painted or coated surfaces;
  • Cracks or holes in floors, walls, and ceiling (including ductwork) must be properly covered or plugged;
  • Hot work equipment must be operable and in good repair;
  • If working on any drum, barrel, or tank, it must be cleaned and purged of flammables and toxics, all tank feeds closed, and the tank vented;
  • A fire watch must be implemented for the duration based on risk;
  • Workers and fire watch personnel must know how to use fire extinguishing equipment and how to activate the fire alarm system;
  • Both the worker and fire watch have been briefed on precautions and emergency procedures and signed off on the permit; and 
  • Hot work performed on painted surfaces in pre-1978 buildings must comply with the University of Chicago’s Lead Policy.

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

When hot work is complete:

  • A fire watch shall be instituted in accordance with this policy; and
  • Smoke/fire alarms that were disabled because of hot work must be reactivated by contacting Facilities Operations or Physical Plant.

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Fire Watch

When Is Fire Watch Required – Hot Work

A constant fire watch is required for a minimum of thirty (30) minutes after the completion of all hot work activities in order to detect and extinguish smoldering fires on the floors above, below, and adjacent to the hot work site if applicable. The person performing the work will be responsible for inspecting the work site prior to starting hot work to determine the hazard risk category of the work site. The hazard risk category will determine the required length of time for the fire watch. The hazard risk category shall be documented on the Hot Work Permit by the person performing the work.  Hazard risk categories include low, medium, and high risk areas.

  1. Low risk areas (30-Minute Constant Watch Required) are:
    • Non-combustible building construction;
    • Combustible building materials and contents are more than 35 feet from hot work;
    • Walls, open railing, and floor openings that could expose combustible materials in adjacent areas are more than 35 feet from hot work;
    • Combustible materials, such as, supply storage, trash, and landscaping materials are more than 35 feet from hot work; or
    • Flammable or combustible liquid or gas storage/usage is more than 100 feet from the hot work.
       
  2. Medium risk areas (2 hour Watch Required | 60-Minute Constant with four 15-Minute Checks ) are:
    • Combustible building construction;
    • Combustible building materials and contents less than 35 feet from hot work;
    • Walls, open railing, and floor openings that could expose combustible materials in adjacent areas less than 35 feet from hot work;
    • Combustible materials, such as, supply storage, trash, and landscaping materials are than less than 35 feet from hot work; or
    • Flammable/combustible liquids, compressed gas cylinders, or stored fuel is more than 50 feet from the hot work.

3. High risk areas (3 hour Watch Required | 1 hour Constant with eight 15 Minutes Checks) are:

  • Flammable/combustible liquids, compressed gas cylinders, or stored fuel is less than 50 feet from the hot work; or
  • Torch applied roofing activities.

 

The use of a thermal imaging device is recommended, but not required when performing fire watch activities. 

If personnel performing hot work activities have any questions about the location or the risk category, Environmental Health and Safety should be consulted prior to starting any hot work activity. 

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. Dial 123 from any campus phone or 773.702.8181.

The constant 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. The permit approver shall require the post-work fire watch to be extended to 60 minutes, or longer, if justified by the residual risk. 

If the work is performed in a designated hot work area, extended fire watch is not required.

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Post Hot Work

The following procedures will be implemented at the completion of all hot work activities.

  1. After completion of the hot work activity, the hot work site shall be constantly under watch for the first 30 minutes from the time hot work has stopped.The 30-minute constant watch requires the person performing the watch to remain on the worksite and include checks for signs of fire by looking in areas that may be hidden or covered up, floors below the work site, and in openings like pipe chases or shafts.
  2. If the hot work activity is in an area classified as a medium or high risk, the constant fire watch shall be increased to an hour and the proceeding watch shall include a series of quick check(s) conducted every 15 minutes after the constant watch has been completed for the duration specified for the area type. The quick check(s) will include checks for signs of fire by looking in areas that may be hidden or covered up, floors below the work site, and in openings like pipe chases or shafts.
  3. The fire watch will be documented on the Post-Hot Work Fire Watch section located on the back side of the Hot Work Permit.
  4. The name, date, and time shall be documented in this section for each fire watch time period as required for the type of hazard area.
  5. The Hot Work Permit will be turned in at the end of the fire watch to a Hot Work Drop-off Box located throughout the University.
  6. EHS will review and audit compliance with this process.

 

Fire Watch Documentation

 

  1. On the front and back of the Hot Work Permit, there is an area to record the hot work fire watch activities. This box will be completed by the person performing the fire watch for this permit.
  2. Each time interval will be completed at the end of that interval. The type of watch is identified as to the method and when the watch occurred.
  3. The amount of required time for the complete fire watch is specified in this policy. Only complete the documentation requirement for the time interval required.
  4. At the end of the fire watch for the hot work, the completed Hot Work Permit shall be returned to one of the four drop off locations located throughout the University.
  • FS-South Campus Office – basement Kelly Hall
  • FS-North Campus Office – WCUP lobby entrance
  • Service Door in Loading Dock (57th Street) – ERC
  • South Steam Plant – lobby entrance

 

The permit shall be submitted at the end of the fire watch period.

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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.

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Storage of Equipment

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

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Injuries/Exposures

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

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Education/Training

Employees shall be trained on hot work management. Employees trained have the authority to immediately stop a hot work operation not conforming with this policy. Employees should report any contractor deficiencies to his/her supervisor and Environmental Health and Safety.

Contractors not following this policy shall be immediately dismissed from working at the University of Chicago. Non-compliance of this policy by University employees is subject to disciplinary action. 

Reviewed: December 2019

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