Thursday, September 27, 2012

Managing the Dangers of Hot Work & Fall From Height

30 May 2012
Hot work poses serious explosion hazard and raises major concern on the safety of workers involved in such activity. The flames, sparks and heat produced during the hot work are ignition sources that can cause fires and explosions in many different situations.
A recent report released by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) on a fatal welding explosion in a chemical facility highlighted the need to mitigate the risks from hot works. A welder was performing hot work on a tank which, unknown to him, contained flammable vinyl fluoride vapour at explosive concentrations. Ignition of the vapour resulted in an explosion that killed the welder and injured another.
Some learning points from this report include:
  • Before and during any hot work, atmospheric and gas monitoring must be performed outside and inside the tanks to identify presence of any flammable vapours. For a very large tank, it is advised to carry out the gas monitoring in multiple locations (top, middle and bottom) to eure no residual flammables.
  • All process pipings, including vent lines on tanks, are to be positively isolated before authorising any hot work.
  • Rigorous hot work training and permitting procedures must be enforced.
  • Whenever possible, avoid hot work and consider alternative non-spark producing methods.
Check out the CSB report HERE.

For more information on hotworks, please refer to the following links below:

Case Studies -  Explosions
Occupational Safety and Health Circular - Safe Use of Oxygen-Fuel Gas Equipment

Worker Fell from Top Rung of Ladder
A worker was tasked to remove an existing ceiling lightings at the ground floor of a private apartment. The floor to ceiling height on the ground floor is 5m and the worker used a 2.8m aluminum A-frame ladder for his work. 
In the late afternoon, the employer, who was installing ceiling lighting at the 2nd floor, heard a crash from the ground floor. He proceeded to the ground floor and found the A-frame ladder had toppled with the worker on the ground. The worker was found bleeding slightly from his mouth but was conscious.

He succumbed to his injuries later that same day in the hospital. According to the Employer, the victim was standing at the upper rung of the A-frame ladder to dismantle the ceiling lightings.


Occupiers and employers undertaking similar work activities are advised to prevent recurrence by conducting risk assessment and applying suitable control measures prior to work commencement. Examples of control measures include:
  • Use the right ladder for the job. For example, the ladder must be high enough for you to reach your work area without having to stand on its top rung. Standing on the top rung of a ladder is highly unsafe and it should never be done (See figure 1).
  • As ladder has little or no fall prevention mechanism, the use of other safer equipment like scissor lifts or tower scaffold to reach higher work area may be recommended.
  • Provide sufficient supervision to ensure on-site adherence to work safely

Figure 1: If it is necessary to work on a ladder, work a few steps below the top rung,
so that a handhold can be maintained.

For more information on working safely at height, please refer to the following links below:

Workplace Safety and Health Act (Chapter 354A), click
Workplace Safety and Health (Risk Management) Regulations, click 
Code of Practice on WSH Risk Management, click 
Code of Practice for Working Safely at Height, click 
WSH Council’s Ladder Safety Kit, click

Courtesy from WSH Council. For more info, please visit


  1. Dear Thomas, I am looking to post your case study on some of my slides to be presented to the general public. Can I have your permission to reproduce your post?

  2. Hi Thad,

    Please feel free to use any of the case tudies for your presentation, however, do remember to quote that the source of article is from Workplace Health & Safety Council.

    Work safety, be safe

  3. Dear Thomas, I have looked through your website and am impressed with your knowledge. I recognise your potential as an trainer and would like to ask you if you would like to be a trainer teaching courses like Construction Safety Orientation Course.

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  5. I really like the training. So simple yet very useful to each readers! Just be safe, safety first


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