Welding is the most popular method of joining metals in our industries today. Just like cutters, welders use remotely controlled or hand-held equipment to join metal parts. Therefore, all people who participate in welding must know updated safety manuals. While you own a billion-dollar welding manufacturing company, this activity exposes every person to similar hazards. In the US, it exposes almost half a million to safety and health risks each year.
I believe that welding operations not only presents numerous hazards to those undertaking the process but also others in the vicinity. Truth to be told, safety is a vital consideration for all welding projects. Proper precautions must be taken and maintained. So, what are these safety measures? In our article, we’ve rounded up welding safety tips and precautions.
Welding Safety Basics
If you enjoy working with your hands, then be ready to learn some basics. A welder joins two metal parts together by melting and heating them. Arguably, the laser beams and intense heat could potentially interfere with your safety and health. Here are welding safety basics.
Follow and adhere to standard developed by OSHA
We have OSHA welding safety measures. Some include:
- protecting your skin,
- covering your ears,
- shielding your eyes and
- protecting others.
During the process, sparks and hot metals can fly off. Therefore, it advisable to cover your skin with protective clothing like leather gloves, a shoulder cover, an apron, and fire-resistant boots. Additionally, loud motors that run off your generator can be noisy. So, to control this wear protective ear plugs or muffs. Still, shield your eyes to control any damage that comes from harmful UV and blue light rays. Finally, protect others by applying aluminum or concrete that can reflect UV radiation.
Carefully review material safety data sheets
This is another important welding safety test. The safety data sheets will help to identify the types and number of risks that can result from the welding process. Also, the datasheet shows all measures that should be undertaken by welders to their impact on human beings.
Read carefully and understand the manufacturer’s instructions for equipment
Every equipment comes with own instructions. It’s manufacture’s mandate to provide instructions on the package. On the other hand, the user should follow these instructions wisely. For example, how it works, how to install and how to store the equipment.
What are Welding Safety Tips?
Now that we’ve welding hazards, safety, and precautions, what is the welding safety tips and tricks? Remember that ignoring your safe working practices and PPE can result in serious repercussions. Below are the welding safety tips.
GET APPROPRIATE TRAINING, FOLLOW GUIDELINES & DON'T CUT CORNERS
Prior to starting this activity, you must get adequate training. This will help you to use and operate the welding safety equipment safely. E-learning courses will offer an easy, flexible and cost-effective training opportunity.
HAVE AN APPROPRIATE ATTIRE
- Know that any exposed skin is vulnerable to UV and infrared rays during welding. Therefore, stay tuned.
- Don’t wear pants with cuffs. This is because they can easily catch flying sparks.
- Don’t keep lighters, matches or any other flammable device around you or in your pocket
- Don’t wear shorts, short-sleeved t-shirts and shirts, and cargo pants
- Wear a proper jacket, welding helmets and gloves for every weld.
High-top leather boots and shoes are recommended.
REMEMBER YOUR ERGONOMICS
- Always practice safe and effective lifting techniques
- Don’t entertain repetitive stress injuries, just take breaks to exercise your legs and arms
- Remember good safety housekeeping always
MAKE THE AREA BREATHABLE
- Ensure the area of welding is ventilated well with exhaust hoods
- In confined spaces. In such a space toxic fumes and gases can accumulate.
Welding Safety Guide
Safety is a requirement when it comes to welding activities. Among the issues to face are electrical shocks, fire safety, toxic fumes, compressed gases as well as personal protection from your ears, eyes, feet, and hands. Above all else, safe life is crucial. Let’s analyze the welding safety.
1. Chemical safety
This is something that every welder should keep in mind. Any chemical container to be cut or welded with the use of torch must be entirely cleaned of flammable materials, tars, greases, acids, and other toxic and explosive materials.
2. Cylinder safety
Whenever you’re using oxygen-fuel mixtures for cutting and welding, do so with a lot of care. The fuel mixture is usually highly flammable and is highly compressed within cylinders. The most common gas used is acetylene and can be dangerous to workers. When there is any compressed gas, a cylinder is always marked with the trade or chemical name. To ensure safety, the cylinders should be well tied, stored standing up and kept in an appropriate place like a rack.
3. Oxygen precautions
Oxygen is used to cut metals. While it’s not flammable like other fuel gases in cutting and welding process, there is a call that oxygen should be respected. Just like in compressed gas, use the same safety measures when it comes to oxygen. Never use regulators or gauges that cannot be read or broken for oxygen.
4. Noise hazards
As you carry out welding activities, you’re likely to suffer from prolonged and loud noises. A loud noise is known to be equal or above 85 dB, and welding activities like air arc gouging and flaming cutting produce over 100 dB noise levels. This can damage your ear hence resulting in hearing impairment. With that to learn, you’re recommended to use ear protection like ear muffs.
5. Exposure to IR radiation and UV
Welding produces a beam of UV light and IR radiation. Without appropriate welding curtains or PPE, then you may experience a painful and long-lasting condition known as arc-eye. I wouldn’t like to suffer from loss of vision or cataracts. With that, you’re recommended to use welding safety glasses and goggles.
Potential Welding Safety Hazards
It’s essential to be aware of the hazards and risks welding process poses. Why stop there? That’s not enough. You should understand all the precautions to take to protect yourself from any danger. In this section, we’ve identified the welding safety hazards.
1. Exposure to gases and fumes
In reality, undertaking welding tasks will expose you to many invisible gaseous fumes. These include nitrogen oxides, nickel and chromium oxides, and ozone. Also, carbon monoxide can easily disturb when it penetrates your lungs. Concerning fume or gas, the duration of your exposure and concentration, the resultant hazards can be severe. Some of the illnesses caused by these welding fumes and gases include:
• Occupational asthma. Nickel oxides and chromium oxides produced by high nickel alloy and stainless steel welding can cause asthma.
• Pneumonia. Regular and more exposure to welding gases and fumes can cause a lung infection that later develops into pneumonia. Severe pneumonia is risky and can result in serious illness, hospitalization, and fatalities.
• Cancer. Welding fumes plus gases are internationally known ‘carcinogenic’
• Lung and throat irritation. These include coughing, tickling of your throat, through dryness and tight chests.
2. Electric shock
This is a part of welding safety rules. As a welder, this is the most immediate and serious risk you’ll probably face. Electric shock may even lead to fatal injuries or death. This may result from the shock itself (direct shock). Also, the fall caused by the action and reaction to a shock can harm your body. Needless to say, you’re at risk of experiencing even a secondary electric shock. This is if you touch the electrode circuit or part of the welding instantaneously when touching the metal pieces you are welding. If you perform in electrically hazardous conditions, then you’re at risk. These include welding:
- On metal structures and flooring
- In very damp conditions
- While wearing unfavorable wet clothing
- In cramped conditions, because you’re required to kneel, lie and crouch
3. Fire and Explosion
Burns and fires are very common in welding areas. Flammable materials are the main cause of the fire. Nonetheless, this can simply be prevented by maintaining and ensuring a clean working area before undertaking the welding activity. Besides, it’s also significant to be aware of the location of fire alarms, fire extinguishers and emergency exits in the event of burn and fire.
4. Injury from physical hazards/ insufficient PPE
Physical hazards are ever-present during the welding process. These can cause eye damage, severe burns, crushed fingers, and toes. With proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) you can combat such dangers and protect your employees against physical hazards. Take these precautions:
- Wear proper PPE such as welding goggles and helmet to protect yourself from sparks, hot slag, chemical burns, and intense lights.
- Have electricity and fire-resistant clothing, welding gloves, hand shields, apron and appropriate boots that to stay protected from burns and heat fires electrocution.
- Ear plugs and ear muffs can also help to protect noise.
NIOSH's Hierarchy of Controls
Penetration, impact, harmful dust, fumes, heat, smoke, injurious light radiation, and heat are all common risks associated with welding. However, this depends on the material being welded. The intense sparks and heat of welding can cause burns.
Substances that result in smoke are extremely toxic. Many cases of eye injuries resulting from contact with metal chips and hot slag have been reported. And ultraviolet light from the arc welding can cause skin burns and ‘welder’s flash’.
What is NIOSHO’s Hierarchy of Controls?
It is a reputable, widely accepted method applied by many to examine and determine effective and feasible hazard control solutions. The concept is usually taught to managers in the welding industry. With that, there are standard practices and measures in the workplace. Adhering to hierarchy basically leads to proper implementation of intuitively safe systems. Significantly, the risk of injury and illness has been amazingly reduced. The hierarchy is depicted as an effective pyramid with five levels. These include:
This just eliminating the hazard, especially removing it physically. It is the most magnificent and effective control. For example, eliminating welding.
This involves replacing a thing that produces a risk with another thing that is less hazardous. For instance, replacing a base welding metal with a less toxic one.
Such controls don’t eliminate the risk, but rather isolate players from the hazard like installing ventilation at the place of activity.
This means; changing the way people work. For example, include employee training, procedural changes, and installation of warning and signs cables
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):
This is another control that aims to minimize exposure to an array of hazards. It may be considered as the least effective method but an important one. Examples are flame-resistant clothing and respirators.
To sum up, welding safety is very critical to every welder. It’s our responsibility to combat all hazardous that result in welding activities. As you read our guide, you’ll learn more about welding safety tests, welding safety tips, and tricks and welding signs. Also, all OSHA welding safety rules must be followed. Ideally, learn the different risks posed by welding than undertake them to ensure safe and effective operations.