Welding Safety: What to Do And What No to Do!

Welding Safety

You’ve been around frying a lot of metals over the weekends. And chances are you’ve had one or two narrow escapes from the several dangers around welding. And if you by chance happen to be a welder engineer by profession, getting around with cases of endangered employees would be part of your working experiences through the years. But there has never been a moment of welding hazard that is not horrible. Especially in such cases when you are the victim. So how do you prevent the dangers and maintain hazard-free welding? The welding safety guide below answers that question to full details. Here, I discuss the basic four welding hazards you may not be paying attention to. I provide 

4 Basic Welding Hazards to Lookout For

Before diving into how to prevent hazards in welding, let’s get to know the 4 basic welding potential dangers first. Their causes and their effects.

  1. Fire And Explosion; about 313 fire/explosion incidents in the construction industry were recorded between 1992 and 2003 alone. And the numbers are adding up. Looking at it, most of the incidents are traceable back to careless in-house engineers and chop shop keepers. Most of them fail at keeping spatters and sparks from arcs under control. And since a spatter can reach up to 30feet away, any inflammable material kept within that reach poses a threat. But there’s more to an uncontrolled spattering beside explosion. Other effects include skin burn and eye damage.  But luckily, I have listed and explained the most effective welding safety style=”font-weight: 400;”> in the next header.
  2. Fumes And Gases; if you need to wake up to the risks of your workplace, knowing about the hazards in fumes and gases comes first. The smoke from consumables and base metals contains metallic compounds highly detrimental to health. These metals include argon, lead, and aluminum. A short term exposure to them brings about nose/eye/throat irritation and in some cases nausea and dizziness. On the other hand, you draw close to the larynx, lungs, and or urinary tract cancer upon long term exposure to them. 
  3. Electric shock; an electric shock comes with a highly injurious episode that in most cases leaves a lasting traumatic impression on victims. While you may not have to deal with a direct effect of it in the form of cardiac arrest, there’s a high tendency of falling off and hitting yourself against something hard. Also, scenarios of electrocution have been recorded from time immemorial among welding operators and engineers alike. In some scenarios, an engineer gets trapped in an electric circuit by holding on to two bare electrically charged wires. An electric shock may also be experienced by anyone touching the electrode of a TIG torch or the metallic part of an electrode holder. Getting trapped in a low voltage electric circuit as low as 20volts up to 120volts will spark an electric shock experience.
  4. Physical Hazard; if you haven’t slipped over some burning pieces of 304L electrode and burn a right cheek, the odds are behind you. Physical hazards in welding are those issuing from a careless placement of welding tools and equipment. When mining welding most especially. Take, for instance, you are about going down a car chassis to weld around a broken exhaust pipe. You turn on your TIG gun, place it under the car after striking an arc with it and begin to slide right under there with your mask or a welding helmet on. Under the car is dark, and with your helmet’s shades on you accidentally rest on a hot TIG gun. That’s exactly how most physical hazards find their ways into the lives of even the enthusiast.

So how do you find your way above these breakneck welding hazards? They won’t go out of their way, you only have to walk around them or avoid them totally and this is how…

Welding Safety and Precautions

Welding safety for fire and explosion; to begin with, ensure whatever flammable materials around the workshop or the working area are kept in a closed-tight store. And if you’re working on a large project demanding a frequent movement of flammable liquids or gases, restrict such movements to a distance away. Or maybe hire a firewatcher whose job is to ensure sparks are within working area till welding is over. 

But what should you do when there’s a fire outbreak? How should you contain it before it becomes widespread? In every situation, endeavor to keep a chock-full fire extinguisher nearby and make provision for fire alarms as well. With these two, let’s say the job is to fix a factory’s roofing, an operator within a block could alert others blocks away immediately after the fire starts so they can bring in their fire extinguishers.

Getting around with fumes and gases; fumes and gases are inevitable when on a welding operation. Nevertheless, it is important you maintain low exposure to them such as below ACGIH’s and OSHA’s established exposure limits. You could do this by installing local exhausts in the breathing zone to keep fumes and gas off the area. Or you may need to cash in on the solution of a respirator or a removable exhaust hood for a low budgeted welding safety. Another cost-effective precaution is the installation of fans or any other means of ventilation that doesn’t get off under the belt. 

Electric shock precaution and safety in welding; just as I have pointed four bulletins away, electric shock is all about getting trapped in an electric circuit. So the trick here is beating down every possibility of getting involved. This is done both by getting yourself and the employees insulated with personal protective equipment and being mindful. Personal protective equipment (PPE) includes a pair of moisture-free gloves that are in good shape plus a durable resistance jacket. On the other hand, being mindful include ensuring you’re not touching the metal part of your electrode holder or the electrode itself. Furthermore, stare clear of holding bare wires ignoring the fact it has electricity running through it or not. More so, another preventive measure to not have an electric shock when welding is keeping a dry working environment. You should also in no casework on a metal surface floor as you never can tell when a bare wire or your TIG gun falls off and touches the floor. 

Preventing Injuries; tidiness is key to preventing every possible physical injuries at work. So keep a tidy working environment by clearing off the inevitable debris and clutter as they build up. In the same direction, keep frequently used materials within reach and store the rest away to avoid having them cluttering around. As an engineer, you should also validate the usability of welding equipment and the conditions of PPEs must be checked before setting out to work with them. If you can’t, have someone to do it and have your employees to read the manufacturer’s safety instructions and guides before using the equipment. You must also get regular updates from the AWS (America welding society) to keep abreast of new developments around the industry.

Now before wrapping up, here are some PPEs (Personal protective equipment) you must have to keep a danger-free working environment.

Welding helmet; welding helmets are must-have for both enthusiasts and the weekend metal joiners. They come with adjustable filters so you don’t have a thing to do with eye problem from ultraviolet rays and sparks

Welding boots; you don’t want some metals driving in through feet and that’s where a pair of welding boots comes in. Welding boots come in varying designs ranging from metatarsal guard boots to slip on boots. They both give comfort and protect the feet from any hazard.

Googles/welding sunglasses; in those cases where you have to work under with restricted movements, a helmet may not be ideal, which calls for the need to spend a few bucks on welding googles

Respirator; supporting the scenario above, and some other times there’s no exhaust available, a respirator is needed

Earplugs; if you can withstand the noise from a welding machine, that’s fine. But if you can’t, then these earplugs will play a big role in making you comfortable

Heat resistance uniforms; whichever you go for should be oil-free and made of heat/fire resistant material

Gloves; your PPE box should not miss out on at least a pair of protective gloves. These gloves should, however, be hole-free and must be in good condition

Conclusion

The more you avoid hazards the better for you and the team. There will be no side budget to treat injured employees and works will be done on time. And luckily, the whole welding safety idea is all about using the welding PPEs I have listed above, keeping the placement of tools under your belt, maintaining a dry working environment, and being mindful of each welding activity. Nevertheless, if you have some good rules of thumbs or know some new welding safety, feel free to share.