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Written by Martin Copppard 22/11/2021

Taking the heat out of hot works

Acetylene is a highly flammable gas and can form an explosive atmosphere when in the presence of air or oxygen.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has been concerned about the habit of cutting drums for reuse or disposal for some time. Yet many workshop technicians are unaware that an empty oil drum – unless the contents have been made inert – is likely to contain residues of liquid which could turn into flammable vapour when heated.

The ripple effects from such an incident can go far beyond the direct costs (fine and legal costs, civil compensation claims and costs) and the individual’s pain and suffering and future loss of earnings. Prepare for close attention from the HSE, increased insurance premiums, potential reputational damage and the need to consider the mental health impact on staff – particularly those who have witnessed such an incident.

When thinking about welding operations in your workshop, ask yourself:

  • Do we really need welding kits on the premises? Could welding be avoided by subcontracting the work, or replaced with cold-cutting methods?
  • Can we evidence the competence of our welders?
  • How well is the workshop being supervised and monitored? Does your Workshop Manager know how the welding kit is being used?
  • Do we have a documented risk assessment for the task, Safe System of Work procedures and a Permit to Work system for hot works?

Practical control measures for using, storing and handling kits

  • Have the right equipment - use the correct hoses, clamps, couplers and regulators for the particular gas and appliance being used. Don’t allow hoses to be left where they could be damaged.
  • Storing cylinders - store full and empty cylinders away from sources of ignition in a well-ventilated place (ideally outside) and those that contain liquid, store with their valves upright
  • Protect cylinders from damage - chain unstable cylinders in racks and provide trolleys with restraining chains for moving sets
  • Carry out checks - ensure pre-use checks of welding equipment are undertaken by a competent person

How we can help

It pays to invest a little time and resource into identifying and assessing the risks posed from welding operations in your workshop proactively rather than acting after a – potentially serious – accident has occurred.

We can help you produce a ‘suitable and sufficient’ risk assessment for your key workshop activities and also assist with the specific ‘DSEAR’ assessment for welding operations. We can work with you to develop Safe Systems of Work, Hot Work Permits and advise on appropriate risk control measures.

For more information and advice simply call 0330 008 5555 or email

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Categories: Commercial Insurance, Risk Management

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