Work involving the application of heat, use of flames or that can lead to the generation of sparks can significantly increase the risk of fire, injuries and ill health.

Using a formal hot work permit system, comprising of a risk assessment, control measures and close supervision during the work and for a period afterwards is a cost effective way of controlling the risk, whether undertaken by your own employees or sub-contractors.

Key actions for safety during welding and other hot work

  • Appoint a competent person to manage the hot work permit system, undertake the risk assessment, agree fire precautions and issue the permit to record relevant details. Your competent person will need to be trained in how to undertake risk assessments, fire hazards and fire safety – allowing them to determine additional fire precautions needed.
  • Develop a suitable permit form to record the information. The permit needs to include what is allowed, permitted equipment, where and for how long, who by, and what fire precautions are needed – including fire watch patrols during and after the work.
  • Start the risk assessment by asking if there is a safer way to do something without hot work. Hot work may be quicker but not safer.
  • Don’t just consider the immediate area where the hot work will be done during the risk assessment. Sparks and heat, or ignited materials, may travel a long way, such as by falling down through the building or by being carried on the wind, and work on one side of a wall or partition may ignite materials unseen on the other side. Consequently, you should check areas above, below and alongside the place where the work will be done when making your assessment.
  • Use a checklist for the risk assessment, but don’t let it be constrained by the checklist’s questions.
    • As a reminder to think beyond the points raised within the checklist, make the final question “Are there any other factors to take into account?”
  • Specify exactly what type of equipment has been permitted that will cause the hot work hazard during the risk assessment and when creating the permit.
    • You should make it clear, changes of equipment type is not permitted without prior authorisation, and that a new risk assessment and permit would be required.
  • Don’t issue hot work permits for long periods or without checking the area and completing the risk assessment. It’s advised that daily permits are used.
  • Check the precautions set out in the permit have all been implemented before the work commences.
  • Make note of, and take into consideration, if more than one person may issue a permit for the same period when deciding upon the necessary precautions.
  • Make sure that your employees (including maintenance staff), contractors and any tenants, are aware of your hot work permit system and who they have to go to for authorisation.
  • Ensure that employees are made aware of any fire safety equipment that might be impaired during the works and make sure it’s reinstated afterwards.
  • Vet any contractors you’re considering using, so you can be sure they’re competent to carry out the work and have arranged appropriate public liability (PL) insurance cover (seek advice from your insurance broker as to the recommended PL insurance minimum limit of indemnity which contractors should have).
    • Ask the contractor to provide a method statement setting out how the work will be carried out, along with the necessary health and safety measures needed for it.

Templates that may help with managing hot work

Additional resources

Frequently asked questions

Find answers to some common queries about health and safety issues and related legislation.