Find out what you need to know about welding safety to get the job done.
Whichever type of welder you’re using, welding safety is a must. Know the hazards of welding and how you can stay safe to get the job done.
Welding Safety: Possible Hazards
One of the biggest dangers when welding is exposure to arc rays, known as arc flash. Arc flash is a burn of the outer layer of the eye. It’s caused by intense exposure to UV radiation from electric welding arcs. It’s essentially like a sunburn, only on your eye. There are a number of ways to protect yourself from arc flash. You’ll need the right protective eyewear, including safety glasses and a welding helmet.
Fumes & Gases
Fumes and gases are created from the different base metals used in welding. Proper ventilation is a must to ensure your safety. The area you’re welding in should have a ventilation system with either an exhaust fan or hood. The easiest way to stay safe is by keeping your head out of the fume plume. The fume plume is the area where welding fumes collect.
When you’re on the job, consult with your employer about what type of metal you’re working with. Different metals release different gases, each having their own side effects. It’s also important to review OSHA regulations to ensure your workplace is safe.
One of the most serious risks of welding is electric shock. It can cause injury or death from the shock itself, or a fall from reacting to the shock. To protect yourself from electric shock, you need to insulate yourself from the metal you’re welding. Don’t touch the metal that is being welded, especially if you have wet clothing or bare skin. It’s important to wear dry gloves, and have dry insulation to stand or lie on.
Welding Safety: Protect Yourself
Eye & Headwear
When it comes to welding safety, the first step should be eye protection. Always wear safety glasses or goggles to protect your eyes from slag chips, wire wheel bristles or grinding debris. These hazards can actually ricochet under your helmet. Safety glasses also come in handy to help protect against arc flash. However, you need to wear a helmet for total protection.
Welding helmets are meant to protect your face, neck and ears. They’re also meant to protect your eyes from arc flash rays and weld spatter. There are a variety of welding helmets to choose from. Different helmets have different features such as auto darkening, switching speed, solar power and sensitivity adjustment. Whichever helmet you choose, make sure you wear it. You can further protect your head with a welding cap or doo-rag.
You will want to cover all parts of your body when welding. When you’re welding, the metal can spark or splatter, causing burns. The radiation from the arc rays can also cause skin burns. Arc flash is one of the most dangerous parts of welding.
Wear flame-resistant welding gloves. Leather welding gloves are a great option. You want to protect your hands from not only flames, but radiation. Look for gloves with an insulated lining to protect your hands from high radiation. There are also welding gloves available with an arm gauntlet cuff. The extended cuff will cover part of your forearm, giving you more protection.
Don’t cuff or roll up your clothing. Sparks can become lodged in pockets, rolled-up sleeves or pants. Don’t tuck your pant legs into your leather work boots. Your clothing should be made from durable materials, like wool, leather or heavy cotton. We also recommend wearing a welding apron, welding sleeves or welding jacket for extra protection.