In the construction and public work sectors the cuttingtorch is a valuable and useful tool designed to quickly and efficiently cutmetals in a variety of applications. Before going any further we want to remindyou that it’s important to consult your local OSHA requirements for cutting andwelding safety, and always refer to the safety requirements for yourorganization.
Working with oxygen fuel cutting and welding torchespresents a number of hazards making the use of proper safety and operatingprocedures mandatory. This program is not an attempt to train you in all thehazardous conditions that can exist in welding and cutting operations. Thiscan’t be accomplished in a short program like this so be sure you’ve beenthoroughly trained in the safe use of your equipment before attempting to useany welding or cutting equipment.
Pre-job Checklist, Fireproofing, Work Environment
Now, before starting to work, be sure the floor itself isfireproof, such as concrete. Of course, from time to time you may have to workon a wood floor which will require that it be covered with sand or wetted downwith water.
Heat resistant material can also be used to protect certainareas. Asbestos has been used in the past, but due to the health risksassociated with asbestos other fireproof materials should be used to protectagainst sparks, and hot metal.
Work benches should be constructed with fireproof tops. Frequently fire bricks or medal grids are used as a workingsurface. Since cutting operations consume oxygen adequate ventilationmust be used to prevent oxygen deficiency, flammable or toxic gases, or fumes whileworking in confined spaces. Remember when working in confined spaces be sure that allthe requirements for work in confined spaces are followed as confined spacescan become a death trap.
Oxygen and fuel cylinders should be secured or chained tothe cylinder cart, bench, or work area to prevent an accidental fall. If acylinder should fall there’s a serious risk of injury as the regulator orcylinder neck may be broken off causing the cylinder to take off like a rocket.A cylinder jetting wildly around on the job site is a truly terrifyingexperience.
Personal Protective Equipment
As with all jobs, proper personal protective equipment isimperative for protection from flying slag, sparks, and of course, brightlight. Goggles with tempered lenses shaded number 5 or darker help protect theeye and allow better visibility. Remember swap meet sunglasses or streetglasses should never be worn as they provide no protection from the manypotential eye hazards.
Protective sleeves, gloves, and aprons should be worn toguard the skin and clothing against burn or flying sparks. Never wear clothing withoil or grease on them as the spark can quickly set your clothing on fire.Safety shoes are also a must as the hazard of hot slag can quickly burn throughtennis shoes. Not to mention the potential of dropping heavy material on yourfoot.Fire Prevention
When working with oxygen fuel operations fire preventionshould be a prime consideration.
- First, never use grease or oil on or around any oxygen fuelequipment. In the presence of oxygen even a tiny amount can cause an explosionand major fire.
- Two, keep flames and sparks well away from cylinders andhoses. If you’ve been around cutting operations very long you know this rule isfrequently ignored.
- Three, keep combustible material such as rags and paper wellaway from cutting operations as sparks can fly great distances.
- Next, use heat resistant material to protect nearby wallsand floors.
- Always have a multi-purpose fire extinguisher on hand, andknow how to use it. Also, check it regularly to be sure it will function in theevent of a fire.
- Only use oxygen fuel equipment with the gases it wasdesigned to work with. Never open oxygen cylinder valve more than one completeturn, and keep the cylinder wrench on the cylinder valve so that it can bequickly turned off in an emergency.
- Never test gas leaks with a flame. Use only approved leakdetection solutions.
- Finally, when your work is completed check the area forpossible smoldering materials that can cause a fire after you’ve left.