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Injury prevention strategies in hot work environments

Kentucky workers who run welders, brazers, grinders, and other equipment that produce sparks face ongoing risks of burns, fires, and explosions. In addition to coming in contact with hot equipment, sparks might ignite flammable gases. To promote safety in these types of situations, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has made a series of recommendations.

Employers and workers should designate safe locations for hot work such as welding. A good location would contain a minimum of combustible materials. Gas detection equipment should be set up. This will enable monitoring of the presence of flammable gases. If a detector produces a gas reading that is over 10 percent of its minimum explosive limit, then work should be stopped and the hazard addressed.

Safety equipment that reduces contact with sparks and flares includes guards and barriers that block heat and slag. Fire extinguishers should always be on hand. The presence of an extra worker who monitors the job and watches for fire hazards also increases on-the-job safety because the person can warn the worker focused on a task when something goes wrong.

When an injury does occur, a worker needs to report the incident to the employer as soon as possible, regardless of whose fault it was. This is an important step when subsequently filing a claim for workers' compensation benefits under the employer's insurance coverage. The filing process is also subject to strict time requirements, which is why having the assistance of an attorney could be advisable in ensuring that all documents are included and are submitted within the statutory period.

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