Safe Practices Promote Arc Welding Safety
Helpful tips for arc welding safety in the workplace.
SOURCE: Ken Brown, Project Research Manager, The Lincoln Electric Company
Safe Practices Promote Arc Welding Safety
Major hazards welders can encounter if these dangers are overlooked include fumes and gases, arc rays and sparks, and electric shock. Here are a few of the main precautions that will help welders avoid trouble.
For further safety information and details on safe welding, contact the manufacturer of your welding equipment or the American Welding Society. Everyone with welding responsibility should also be familiar with ANSI standard Z49.1, “Safety in Welding and Cutting.”
Fumes and Gases Are Silent Hazards
src=”https://weldinginfocenter.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/lenstaybl3.jpg” alt=”Helpful tips for arc welding safety in the workplace.” width=”200″ height=”240″ border=”0″ hspace=”5″ vspace=”5″ />The fumes and gases that result from the welding process can cause acute or chronic health effects if proper precautions are ignored. The fume plume contains solid particles from the consumables (electrodes), base metal, base metal coating, and gases formed in the process, which include oxides of nitrogen and ozone…
The gases used for shielding (argon, helium, and carbon dioxide) are non-toxic, but as they are released, they displace oxygen in breathing air. This can cause dizziness, unconsciousness, and even death with longer exposures. Avoid exposure to fumes and gases whenever possible, and use ventilation equipment or a respirator when necessary.
Here are some suggestions:
Arc Rays and Sparks Can Injure Eyes and Burn Skin
These are the most obvious hazards because they are the most visible. However, they should not be taken for granted. While the dangers may be well recognized, consider these factors:
Electric Shock Can Kill
The hazards of electric shock are one of the most serious risks facing a welder. Contact with equipment or metal parts that are electrically “hot’ can cause injury or death from the shock or from a fall that results from a reaction to the shock.
Primary voltage shock (i.e., 230, 460 volts) is the most serious danger because it is much greater than secondary voltage shock (i.e, 60 – 100 volts).
Primary voltage shock comes from touching a lead inside the welding power source while you have your body or hand in contact with the welder case or other grounded metal.
Turning the equipment’s power switch “off” does not turn the power off inside the case. Never remove panels without unplugging the input power cord or turning the power disconnect switch off.
Secondary voltage shock comes from touching part of the welding circuit, such as a bare spot on the electrode cable, while also touching the grounded metal workpiece. Avoid touching both parts of a circuit at the same time.
Other Hazards to Watch
Welding sparks can cause fire or explosion and can easily go through small cracks and openings or spray up to 35 feet to adjacent areas. Remove fire hazards from the welding area or cover them with a fire-resistant shield if necessary. Do not weld near unshielded fuel or hydraulic lines.
Cylinders used for shielding gas in some processes can explode if handled improperly. Always store and handle them safely, keep them upright, and protect them from mechanical shocks or falling.
Maintain all hoses, fittings, and regulators in good condition. Never allow the electrode or any electrically “hot” parts of the welding equipment to touch a cylinder.
Do not weld near fumes from other processes, such as cleaning, degreasing, or painting.
Some fumes may cause an explosion, and others can form highly toxic gases when exposed to welding arcs and heat.
Ear plugs or muffs will help prevent hearing loss from working around noisy arc welding equipment or some processes.
They also will keep flying sparks out of your ears, especially when welding overhead or in close quarters. Hearing loss can be gradual and will add up over time, so ear protection is always a good idea.
Welding is indispensable to numerous industrial and consumer products, as it plays a key role in building and maintaining the equipment, tools, and infrastructure that make our abundant lifestyle possible.
Done properly, it is safe, productive, and efficient. Poor safety techniques often translate into poor quality as well as posing a hazard to operators and other people in the area. Insistence on strict safety requirements for welding operations will pay off in employee health and productivity.
Guide for Shade Numbers
1/32 in. (mm)
More than 8 (6.4)
flux cored arc welding
1/8 to 1/2
3.2 to 12.7
5 or 6
6 or 8
1 to 6
25 to 150
4 or 5
5 or 6
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Sean Coby is a welder par excellence and well respected among the welding community in Woodbridge, VA. He prides himself to be the fabricator and mechanic in the automotive/ diesel industry for the past more than eight years now. As the chief editor of his https://weldinginfocenter.com, he shares his experience to be safe during welding and to take proactive steps for becoming a successful welder like him.