In all types of welding processes, there are certain aspects of it that can be dangerous to your health. Welding hazards can lead to injuries and sometimes death. To eliminate or reduce the chances of accidents, it’s crucial to follow certain welding safety guidelines. These welding safety tips are universally applicable, whether you work in a large manufacturing company or do just weekend welding as an independent fabricator.
Table of Contents
Potential Welding Hazards
Fumes and Gases
The welding process produces fumes and gases, which can be hazardous to the welder’s health. So it’s important to have proper ventilation (a fan or exhaust system) and use the respiratory protective equipment.
In the manual for the consumables and the welder you can find a safety data sheet with the particular potential health effects and safety instructions for the unit.
Also, do not weld surfaces contaminated with unknown material. Be extra careful when using carbon dioxide shielding gas and remember to have proper ventilation.
Be especially careful when working on the following metals because they produce toxic vapors: lead, copper, zinc, cadmium and beryllium.
One of the most serious risks for a welder is electric shock. It occurs when a person touches two pieces of metal that have a voltage between them. This inserts the person into the electrical circuit and leads to severe injury or death.
So never touch any live electrical parts. It’s important to insulate yourself from the work and ground. Wear dry gloves that are in good condition and never touch the metal parts of the electrode holder. There should also be insulation between the metal parts being welded and the ground.
Keep the welding cable and electrode holder in proper condition. Inspect it for any damage before beginning to weld. If damaged, repair them before use, but remember that the machine needs to be shut down during this. And remember, when not in use, but still turned on, the stick electrodes are always electrically hot.
Arc Rays and Spatter
The welding process reaches extreme temperatures, posing significant safety risks. However, the real danger comes not from these extreme temperatures, but by the arc rays and spatter, which reach up to 35 feet away from your welding area. This can injure eyes, burn skin, and cause fire hazards.
To prevent fires, remove any flammable objects from the work area. If you can’t remove them, put fire-resistant protection over them. Know where the fire alarm is and where you can find an extinguisher.
Also, protect yourself against arc rays and spatter. That means getting a proper auto-darkening helmet to protect the face and neck, wearing flame-resistant boots, and other protective clothing.
Welding Protective Gear List
- A welding mask for protecting your face against sparks, heat and electric shock. By checking this best welding helmet article, you read on how to choose the right one for your needs. It should have proper protection against ultraviolet and infrared radiation. And the filter lets should be dark enough to protect your eyes from the flash of the arc.
- Safety glasses with side shields. Minimum eye protection requires at least safety glasses with shade numbers 11-12.
- Leather gloves. They will protect you from burns, cuts and scratches. Always make sure that they are dry.
- High-grade leather boots. Look for those that have 6-8 inch ankle coverage. Also look for safety toe boots to protect your feet from heavy objects potentially falling on them and metatarsal guides to prevent shoelaces catching on fire.
- Long sleeve flame-resistant shirt.
- Earmuffs to protect your hearing.
- Leather pants.
- Other protective clothing.
Creating Safe Welding Space
- Make sure that you have enough light in your work area, so you can see what you’re welding.
- Check the room for flame retardant qualities. Check the floor that it’s concrete and the walls that they are cinder blocks. If anything is flammable, it should be moved away at least 35 feet from the work area.
- Have adequate ventilation. Welding should not be done in a confined space or in an area where there any barriers obstructing cross ventilation of natural air. If natural ventilation can’t be provided, you can use mechanical ventilation.
- Plan your power needs and prepare everything accordingly beforehand.
This article was intended for general information purposes. No representation is made that it is complete. It’s not a substitute for current applicable government regulations and standards. It can be different for your specific location and business activity. For accurate and detailed welding safety guidelines, you should refer the applicable standards and also the manuals for the welding equipment you’re using.