Welding is a dangerous profession when welding precautions are ignored. When welders throw caution to the wind, they’re exposed to hazards like toxic fumes, electric shock, arc eye, and fire and explosions.
Welding accidents can be avoided by following welding safety guidelines. Read these welding safety tips if you want to have a longer and safer career in the welding industry.
Why Are Welding Safety Guidelines Important?
Safety should be a welder’s top priority. When a welder doesn’t have their personal protective equipment (PPE) and doesn’t follow safety precautions, they risk their lives and their coworkers’ safety. Welding safety is crucial whether you work for a billion-dollar manufacturer or a small-scale operation.
Employees need to be trained on welding machine safety rules and welding hazards before they start working. Equipment should also be inspected and maintained on a regular schedule to ensure effectiveness and safe operation. Follow manufacturer guidelines and use tools exactly how they’re intended to be used.
Understanding how to use equipment and address common welding hazards is a great way to promote safety in the workshop. With enough knowledge and resources, welders can effectively protect themselves and those around them.
Common Welding Injuries and Hazards
Identifying potential hazards reduces risk and creates a safe work environment. The most common injuries include:
A sudden electrical discharge to the body can cause severe injury or even death. Electrocution occurs when two charged metal objects touch. Equipment with a high voltage has a higher current, increasing the chances of severe injury.
Toxic Fumes and Gases
Welding fumes contain harmful metals like beryllium, manganese, lead, and arsenic. Gases like carbon dioxide, argon, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen also present a threat. When welders are exposed to these, they can develop health problems like respiratory illness, impaired movement and speech, and cancer.
Fire and Explosion
Working around flammable materials increases the risk for fire and explosion in the environment. Welding arcs produce extreme heat that could cause a fire if you don’t clear the working area of dangerous materials. All it takes is slag or spatter coming in contact with a flammable object for an incident to occur.
Arc eye, or flash burn, is the most common eye injury in the welder profession. Arc eye occurs when the welder is exposed to the intense ultraviolet (UV) light produced by the welding torch. The cornea becomes inflamed and feels like a sunburn in the eye. With treatment, the cornea can repair itself in two days. Without treatment, arc eye can lead to infection and loss of vision.
If you notice the following symptoms after welding, seek medical attention:
- Light sensitivity
- Blurred vision
- Bloodshot eyes
- Mild to severe eye pain following a welding incident
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Follow These Welding Safety Guidelines
Successful and safe welding requires knowledge and adequate training. Follow these welding safety tips to keep your workspace in order and prevent welding accidents.
Use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Exposed skin is vulnerable to infrared and UV rays; wearing proper attire reduces the risk of a welding accident. Wear shirts and denim pants made from tightly woven materials to protect against overexposure. High-top leather shoes provide excellent foot protection and should be worn under your pants legs. Tennis shoes are never appropriate.
Wear a welding jacket to minimize the chance of your clothes catching sparks, and wear heavy-duty gloves made from flame- and electricity-resistant cloth or leather. Pick up welded materials with pliers to prevent burns. Put on goggles when finishing work, wire brushing welds, or chipping slag.
Wear a welding helmet with a reliable filter shade to protect your eyes from ultraviolet rays and prevent arc eye. Use safety glasses with side shields and ear coverings under the helmet that are certified by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). If you aren’t sure what lens shade is best for your welding, consult OSHA for guidance.
Protection Against Toxic Fumes and Gases
The toxic fumes produced during welding are a hazard. Fumes and gases accumulate in confined spaces and replace clean air. Exhaust hoods remove fumes from the space and provide enough breathable air. Before dealing with certain materials, consult your welding engineer or an industrial safety specialist for proper safety precautions.
Fire Hazard Safety Precautions
Welding arcs can reach a temperature of up to 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit. When a spark contacts flammable materials, you and other welders can be harmed. Fire extinguishers should be available where flammable materials are present. Before use, you should also check your fire extinguishers to ensure the gauges are full.
Know where your tools and equipment are. Note the location of fire alarms, sand buckets, fire extinguishers, emergency exits, and other resources prior to welding. Understanding your environment can prove invaluable in the event of a fire.
What Is a Welding Risk Assessment?
Welding risk assessments consider the type of welding, materials, welding rods, ventilation, and other factors to evaluate workspace safety. Proper practices and equipment prevent common injuries like burns, eye damage, crushed fingers and toes, and electrical shock.
An effective welding risk assessment looks at the following:
- Electrical safety
- Fire safety
- Welding position
- Ultraviolet and infrared light radiation
- Confined spaces and respiratory equipment
Oxygen Service Company Promotes Welding Safety
Your options for affordable welding repairs and equipment are limitless, but high quality is not as easy to find. Oxygen Service Company delivers fast, affordable, and superior welding solutions. We help you avoid costly downtime with welder repair services and prevent welding machine failure with reliable welding equipment rental options.
Welding is a process that requires high-level skills and experience. Before you hire a welding professional to take on a project for you, our certified welding inspector services ensure you’ve chosen a qualified professional by testing their procedure and measuring it against industry standards.
Our team has the resources you need for consistent success. We understand the significance of welding safety and do everything we can to promote safety in your welding environment. Reach out today to learn how we can help.