Guidance about welding and other hot work

What is hot work?

Hot work includes activities such as welding, cutting and grinding that produce hot metal, radiant heat and sparks.

What safety issues are associated with hot work in general?

Hot work is typically well controlled within dedicated work areas such as workshops. However, maintenance and service work may need to be done in a variety of settings away from a workshop, which can introduce risk factors such as:

  • proximity of combustible material to work
  • proximity of other personnel to work
  • weather conditions, particularly wind velocity and temperature
  • inappropriate work practices
  • inadequate or inaccessible fire-fighting resources.

Without a spotter, the person undertaking the hot work may not notice spot fires, which can quickly escalate and may have serious consequences.

Refer to Part 2 of the Mineral exploration drilling - code of practice below for a discussion of hot work in remote areas and possible risk controls.

Mineral exploration drilling - code of practice - 11231 Kb

Mineral exploration drilling - code of practice: This code is a practical guide to assist those involved in mineral exploration to develop and implement safe systems of work for drilling operations, particularly in remote areas.

What safety and health issues are associated with welding?

Risks associated with welding

Welding is hazardous when done:

  • in a hazardous location
  • with damaged or unsuitable tools and equipment
  • without the correct personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • using incorrect welding materials or procedures.

Serious injuries, illness or death can be caused by:

  • electric shock from contact with live components
  • radiation burns to the eyes or body due to the welding arc
  • body burns from weld splatter or hot metal
  • exposure to fire or explosions
  • inhalation of fumes from the welding rod or surface being welded
  • contact with noxious process materials in the work area.

Guidance

Safe work practices need to cover:

  • the welding equipment
  • welding process
  • wet or humid locations and confined spaces
  • maintenance.

The mine safety matters welding pamphlet below covers primarily arc electrical welding, the hazards, what can happen and safe work practices.

Welding - mine safety matters pamphlet - 1732 Kb

This mine safety matters pamphlet contains information on the hazards and recommended safe work practices when welding.

Mines Safety Bulletin 117 Preventing electric shocks during welding discusses the importance of understanding the welding electrical circuit and how to maintain a safe current path.

You can search for mines safety bulletins and other safety alerts in the Publications and resources area and download them as a PDF.

There are Australian Standards for safety in welding and allied processes that address electrical and fire safety:

  • AS 1674.2 Safety in welding and allied processes - Electrical specifies safety requirements for arc welding and allied processes, to prevent electric shock and minimize associated hazards.
  • AS 1674.1 Safety in welding and allied processes - Fire precautions specifies precautions to be taken prior to and during hot work (including welding and allied processes), to prevent the possibility of fire or explosion.

Australian Standards are available from Standards Australia

Further guidance is available from the Welding Technology Institute of Australia (WTIA):

  • Technical Note No. 7 Health and safety in welding
  • Technical Note No. 22 Welding electrical safety.

Technical notes can be purchased from the Welding Technology Institute of Australia (WTIA).

WTIA Technical Note 7 is approved as a code of practice under the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994.

Toolbox presentations

The following presentations can be used at toolbox meetings to discuss arc welding hazards and safeguards.

Arc welding hazards and safeguards - fumes and gases (2008) - 11508 Kb

This toolbox presentation outlines arc welding hazards such as fumes and gases and how to control the health risks.

Arc welding hazards and safeguards - electrical (2008) - 6854 Kb

This toolbox presentation outlines arc welding electrical hazards and how using appropriate safety devices can help reduce the risk of an accident.

Related information

Are you a tradesperson transporting oxy-acetylene or propane? Transporting welding and cutting gases discusses safety tips to keep in mind.