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.

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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.

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; and
  5. 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 Operations and Maintenance and 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

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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).

If hot work must be performed, a hot work permit must be obtained prior to any work commencing by the contacting the following department at least 24 hours prior to the start of the hot work:

  • Operations and maintenance work in non-BSD campus buildings: Environmental Health and Safety at 773.702.9999;
  • Operations and maintenance work in BSD campus buildings: Physical Plant at 773.702.6295; and
  • Project related work in all campus buildings: Environmental Health and Safety at 773.702.9999.

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. All building occupants must be suitably protected against hazards generated by the work (e.g., heat, sparks, fumes, welding rays).

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, compress 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; and
  • Workers and fire watch personnel must know how to use fire extinguishing equipment and how to activate the fire alarm system; and
  • Both the worker and fire watch have been briefed on precautions and emergency procedures and signed off on the permit.

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

Environmental Health and Safety requires a constant fire watch during all hot work and for a minimum of 30 minutes following the completion of hot work. If the work is performed in a designated hot work area, extended fire watch is not required.

If hot work is performed in a location where the following condition(s) exist, a 30-minute fire watch following the completion of hot work is required:

  1. Non-combustible building construction;
  2. Combustible materials in building construction or building contents are no closer than 35 feet to the point of operation of the hot work;
  3. Combustible materials are more than 35 feet away, but are easily ignited by sparks;
  4. Wall or floor openings within a 35 feet radius expose combustible materials in adjacent areas, including concealed spaces in walls or floors; and
  5. Combustible materials are adjacent to the opposite side of partitions, walls, ceiling, or roofs and are likely to be ignited.

A 60-minute fire watch shall be required for all other conditions.

A 120-minute fire watch shall be required for all torch applied roofing.

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.

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Permit Posting

The hot work permit is in duplicate. The top copy shall be retained and entered in the operational database by end of business day for Facilities Operations or maintained by Physical Plant and the bottom copy shall be posted in a visible location within the hot work site near the hot work equipment.

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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.

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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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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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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: September 2017

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