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HOW FIRES START
Fires from welding operations are started by sparks, hot slag, and flame from the torch. Sparks often drop or are carried long distances by the wind. Slag falls on surfaces or materials below. And a welding torch flame can ignite many substances within a radius of several feet. Be familiar with the standard safety rules for welding so you can spot and report any problems.
THE WELDERS' RESPONSIBILITY
When a welding operation moves into a work area, it's primarily the welders' duty to guard against fire. This means making sure there's no flammable material within range of the flame. Wood, paper or other combustibles should be removed. The welders also are responsible to see that no sparks or slag fall on com bustible materials.
Keep extinguishing materials, such as water or sand, on hand if you must weld near combustibles. You may even find it necessary to assign a worker with a fire extinguisher to stand by and put out sparks.
Welders should not begin working in any area where there are flammable liquids before checking with the supervisor. If you have to weld or touch any tank or drum that has contained flammable liquids or gas, don't start your work until an approved test shows that there's no danger of vapors present. Don't take anyone's word that the tank or drum was tested previously. Insist on a test just before starting your work.
Where floors are combustible, welders must place fire resistant material beneath the work area, so that hot slag cannot contact the floor. Wood floors should be swept clean before welding over them, and should be covered with metal or some other material that won't burn. In some cases, it is advisable to wet the floor down.
But remember that this adds a shock hazard, which must be guarded against if you are arc welding. Be sure there are no cracks into which sparks or slag may fall, and never allow this hot material to fall into conceal ed spaces between walls and floors.
You may have to protect openings, such as open doorways, with a non-combustible curtain. Be sure this curtain reaches to the floor, so that the hot slag can't roll under it. Ask yourself also if wind can carry sparks or slag over the side and down onto storage areas or adjacent property.
Welders must keep cylinders a safe distance from where they are working, which means that hoses must be completely uncoiled. You should keep the tanks and hoses behind you, never in front where flame, heat, or slag will strike them. Hoses must be protected to keep trucks from running over them, and people from walking into them or dragging things across them.
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