What is a hot work passport?

Hot work poses significant fire hazards compared to cold working, therefore it is crucial to implement appropriate and effective health and safety measures. A carefully considered risk assessment is required to reduce the potential risk to the work environment. Fire caused as a consequence of poorly managed hot work can result in not only loss of business and property, but risk to life and the public.

What is hot work?

To understand what a hot work permit is, we firstly need to understand how hot work is defined. Hot work is considered to be any activity that involves the use of open flames or the application of heat or friction in a temporary setting. Hot work should only be carried out if there is not a safer alternative that may be more appropriate as it is considered a potential source of ignition.

Examples of hot work include, but are not limited to:

  • Brazing
  • Cutting
  • Drilling
  • Grinding
  • Use of hot air guns
  • Use of liquid petroleum gas
  • Soldering
  • Roofing
  • Welding

As hot work is defined as a temporary operation or task, the work is likely to be carried out in an area which is not specifically designated for this type of work. This can often mean working around potentially flammable materials; and will therefore require the implementation of a hot work permit to reduce the risks associated. 

What is a hot work permit?

A hot work permit is a control measure implemented to help mitigate the hazards associated when carrying out hot work activities in a potentially dangerous work area. The permit system ensures that all individuals involved in the construction, maintenance and repairs of a facility are aware of the hazards associated with working in such environments.

Before any competent person can perform a hot work activity, they must obtain a valid hot work permit. Contractors must coordinate with their project manager or the person in charge to understand the importance of the implementation of adequate control measures during hot work processes. This is to reduce the risk of fire occurring, and to ensure that if a fire were to break out, the correct actions are followed to protect themselves, building occupants, the property and business operations.

The permit to work system is a record of activities and would become a legal document in the event of an incident, therefore it is crucial to ensure that the permit is completed in its entirety. The permit must be completed by a competent person and signed by both the competent person and the contractor completing the work. This ensures both parties understand their legal responsibilities and all hazards, risks and control measures are identified and documented correctly.

Once the permit has been completed, hot work can commence. Fire watch must be present and continue for 1 hour after the task has been completed. The duration of fire watch may be extended for a number of reasons including working in high-risk areas such as timber framed buildings, or areas with lots of cavities, confined spaces, flammable materials or combustible materials. If the fire watch is to exceed 1 hour, this must be documented on the permit.

When carrying out hot work, a hot work permit should be completed and displayed where appropriate noting the risks involved. The permit is an official span of control to record all hazards that have been identified prior to undertaking the hot work and outlines the control measures that have been put in place to remove those hazards, or reduce the risks associated.

The FPA’s Hot Work Passport scheme

Hot work safety training is essential to help prevent fires caused during construction or maintenance work.

"The Fire Protection Association (FPA) has introduced a Hot Work Passport scheme to enhance the level of competence of those involved in work with the potential to produce ignition sources. The Passport Scheme was developed in response to calls from industry for a national benchmark of fire safety knowledge. Over 2,850 Hot Work Passports have been issued to date. ... The FPA Hot Work Passport is valid for five years from the date of completion of the appropriate hot works course." Dame Judith Hackitt DBE FREng - Building a Safer Future.

Find out more about obtaining an FPA Hot Work Passport here.