Ultimate guide to welding safety

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Ultimate guide to welding safety
Ultimate guide to welding safety. Image source: Supplied

Welding is a great job while done accurately. By using accurate we do not only mean the welding process or technicalities. Welding causes various severe physical hazards and that incident affects the welding persons as well the others who are around that place. So in order to take precautions during welding, we need to know which kind of mishaps can take place.

As the welding process needs electrical circuits make a molten pool of metal, the chance of electrifying is prominent. If anyone touches the part of the electric circuit or welding then also they can get shock. The electric shock can cause severe problems and serious issues. The reasons behind the chance of injuries increase in situations like damp conditions, welding on metal flooring, when the worker is not wearing right accessories or clothing or if the person needs to crouch, kneel or lie.

Wear proper clothing

Any exposed body part is a danger for the welding technician. Not only the sparks but the infrared rays and ultraviolet rays of welding can damage the skin. So the necessary part of welding is covering body parts, checking for open pockets, pant cuffs, and shirt buttons, as the spark can catch you there. So you should button the shirt collars, front pockets and cuffs to stay safe.

Jacket and gloves

No short sleeved shirt or shorts should be worn at the time of welding.  Only the flame resistant jacket and gloves are to be worn. No excuse is permitted like the jackets are heavy, stuffy and suffocating, or they are not comfortable in the time of summer etc.  The heaviness and cumbersome jackets are a thing of the past, as lightweight clothing are now produced from flame resistant materials and pigskin leather. The comfort and the better protection are ensured by these clothes.

The gloves have also been modernized. Now there is no more one sized glove which was used by welding technicians of all age and size. They are now designed ergonomically and made differently for different kinds of welding jobs. There are heavy duty MIG gloves, medium duty MIG gloves and TIG gloves for different purposes. But we will advise not to pick just welded materials with only gloves, but use pliers instead to avoid accidents.

Appropriate shoes-

For welding, you must wear high top leather shoes or boots, as these will help to protect the feet properly. Also check that the pant legs cover the shoes so no skin remains open in the middle of the shoe and pant bottom.

Noise and radiations

Other than electrical shocks or sparks, there are other hazards related to welding. One such issue is noise. The loud prolonged noise that emits during the welding process may cause various issues like tinnitus, which results in ringing in the ears, all the time. Occasional dizziness is another problem faced by the welding technicians, which is formally called vertigo. Heart rate can be increased as well as blood pressure due to the sound.  When we consider a sound loud at the increase of 85 dBa, the welding activities like flame cutting and air arc gouging creates sound of 100 dBa.  The damage done to your ears is immense. While this becomes a regular incident, your ears can get damaged permanently.

Exposure to rays

Also the exposure to UV rays and IR radiation damages the eyesight severely. If you do not use any appropriate PPE or welding curtain then you may get arc eye. This is a painful situation when you feel irritation and sharp pain in your eye. Not only the rays are harmful, the foreign bodies like grit, sparks and dust may enter your eye if they are not covered. The gas and fumes that emerge during the welding process also can cause conjunctivitis. To prevent your eyes and ears from welding issues you may use a welding helmet.

Welding helmet

Welding helmet is a must for any welding operation and you can start with any budget welding helmet as well.You can easily pick any helmet from the list provided here with review. The helmet should have proper filter shades, to protect the eye of the operator. There should be side shields too to offer side protection. Only approved safety glasses and ear protection should be worn under a helmet. To keep your eyes and ears protected there are no better options than wearing a helmet along with extra protection for eye and ear, if those are not included in your helmet.

You can also pick a lens shade for welding applications based on your welding criteria. Or else if you work on fixed materials and with a fixed process then you can check the fixed shade lens.

Auto darkening helmets are another saviour in time of welding. There are sensors placed in such helmets, which darkens the lens within seconds.

The response time is better in industrial grade helmets. Modern technology has improved the helmets as they now have different modes to allow the same helmet to be used for welding, cutting and grinding.

  • The arc sensor works electromagnetically and so full protection is ensured even during pipe welding or out of position state.
  • Also it is advised not to see the light while the welding is taking place. If you look at the welding light with naked eye, then it can harm you with arc eye, which can last for several minutes afterwards.
  • When you are welding, the emission of gaseous fumes may affect your breathing system. Various gases like ozone, nitrogen oxide, nickel and chromium oxides and carbon monoxides can enter your lungs through the breath and damage the respiratory system.

The longer you inhale the gases the serious your lungs damage will be. This may result in pneumonia, occupational asthma, metal fume fever, throat and lung irritation and even cancer.

To prevent your body from the damage caused by the fumes, you may use an exhaust hood which removes fumes from the area and the clean breathable air comes in.

Appropriate training

Taking appropriate training for welding is a must. When you go through adequate training for the safety and use of welding gadgets, your knowledge saves you from any mishaps and you take necessary protections in every step. We have a blog post on how to get started with welding by yourself as all you need is a book, so you may read the post here : Beginner tips for welding.

When you are using an auto darkening helmet, as we have mentioned above, then the neck fatigue is less even after long hours of work. The auto darkening helmets are usually the lighter ones.  Time is saved as during welds no gaping is needed, the welding technician does not need to snap the head to bring the hood down.  Thus the work is done smoothly and fast.

If you have to use a wire feeder, use the boom mounted ones. The ones are best to get the welding job done safely and smoothly. Also all high production welding stations use this feeder for flexibility and efficiency.  In every variety of positions of locomotives this feeder works fine.  So the safety and productivity is maximized.

Storing and moving of gas cylinders

Storing and moving of gas cylinders must be done with utmost care. The argon and carbon dioxide are inert gases present in the atmosphere. But when an enclosed area is filled with such gases, the breathable gas disappears.

If the valve of the cylinder gets knocked off it turns into a rocket with powerful gas emitting forcefully and damaging the entire place with injuring and killing people present there. So the cylinders must be kept upright and never to be kept horizontally.  They also should be kept safe so there is no chance of falling. When moved, the cylinders should be capped necessarily.

Do take care of keeping chlorinated hydrocarbons at a safe distance from the welding place. Brake cleaner is one such liquid that contains the above mentioned chemical. If it comes to close contact with UV light, it creates phosgene gas which is dangerous for health.

Conclusion:

It is always better to take precautions while indulging in a serious task like welding. Worldwide the technicians follow some simple basic rules while attempting to weld. The hazards related to welding are various and they can affect you from small to large scale. So if you are a worker in  a billion dollar welding intensive company, or practising welding at home as a hobby, it is best to stay alert and protected. Hope the suggestions made above will be helpful to you.

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