The welding process joins materials (usual metals) using heat. This proves useful in processes like automotive work and repair work. As useful as the welding process is, it is also extremely dangerous. The welding process exposes the workers to harmful fumes, high light intensity, extreme heat as well as sparks that fly around. For this reason, it is very important to ensure that all safety measures are being employed. There should be proper inspection of tools being used as well as proper training of workers about the welding process and safety precautions.
We have compiled here a list of common safety hazards involved in the welding process for your better understanding. Protection measures will be discussed later. Let’s begin.
Welding Safety Tips and Guide for Beginners:
In the welding process, heat from electrical resistance is used to liquefy metals that need to be joined. Hence, welding machines use a large amount of current during operation which puts the workers under risk of getting an electric shock. Workers are also prone to secondary electric shocks which happen when you touch a part of the electrode circuit while also touching metals that you are working on.
This puts the worker in the path of the flowing electrical current and causes a sharp sudden electrical shock. These electric shocks can cause serious injuries to the body and can sometimes also prove to be fatal. Workers are at greater risk of being electrocuted if they are either working in a damp atmosphere, wearing clothes that are wet or working while kneeling or crouching.
2. Harmful Gases:
Welding operations release various harmful fumes and gases including, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, ozone as well as nickel and chromium oxide which prove to be extremely dangerous for your respiratory system.
Inhaling these gases could potentially result in diseases like pneumonia resulting from a lung infection, irritation in the lungs and throat, occupational asthma, and in worst-case scenarios even cancer. Another common illness caused by welding fumes is described as metal fume fever which has symptoms similar to the flu.
Splatter and extreme light intensities during welding can cause cuts, burns, and even eye damage among which burns are the most common. This because you are working with high-temperature welders working on molten metal. Extreme burns can cause serious skin damage to the point of requiring surgery.
4. Loud Environment:
Welding instruments can be seriously loud in closed environments. Further damage is caused by working in a loud condition for long hours. Normally loud noises are about 85 dba, however, welding noises are almost near 100 dba which can be really harmful.
This can result in either hearing impairment or even permanent hearing loss in the worst cases. You could experience ringing also described as Tinnitus, dizziness which is medically described as vertigo, high blood pressure, and pulse rate.
5. Explosions and Fires:
Working in an area with flammable materials can result in erupted fires because of the high heat from the welding instruments. Working in closed environments with minimal ventilation may also cause explosions.
Welding Safety Measures:
Now, what are the measures that you can take to ensure safety and protection? There are various ways in which you can do this. We have tried our best to compile as many as possible.
1. Proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
This is the first and most important safety precaution. It is important to protect your body from all the sparks and spatters around. A proper PPE must include:
• Fire resistant coat and other clothing.
Make sure that the clothes you are wearing are completely resistant to heat, fire, and radiation. Try to go for a leather apron along with denim pants. Make sure that your clothes don’t have cuffs and if there are pockets, they are properly covered with flaps. Do not wear any clothes that might dangle around or get caught in tools. At no point during the welding process, should you roll up your sleeves or open buttons of your coat?
• Welding Helmet:
Wear a good quality welding helmet, preferably with auto-darkening effects. Your helmet should completely cover your head, face, neck, and ears. This will protect you from the splatter, sparks, radiation, debris as well as chemical burns.
If you’re using a digital helmet, make sure that it is working properly and the shades change in time to protect your eyes. Make sure to keep your helmet on while you’re welding yourself or you are near someone else who is welding. Welding splatter can reach you from even 10 feet away.
Use gloves that are insulated as well as fire-resistant to protect you from any electric shocks or heat burns. In case you accidentally touch an exposed wire or hot material, you should have proper protective gear.
Wear boots that steel toe-capped as well as rubber-soled. This protects your feet if something heavy falls on them and also keeps you insulated from the ground to prevent an electric shock.
Wear ear muffs to protect yourself from the constant loud noises that could harm your hearing.
These keep you safe from the harmful gases and fumes and ensure that you do not feel suffocated.
2. Proper ventilation:
Your workplace should have a proper ventilation mechanism so that exhaust gases and fumes are continuously removed from the area.
3. Avoid clutter:
Make sure there is no extra junk around the workspace. Some things could be flammable and catch fire quickly. Keep your workspace clean and clean up after each shift.
All workers should be given proper training before they begin working on welding operations. Training should be done quarterly and managers need to make sure that workers have full knowledge of safety precautions as well as the practice to deal with accidents.
5. Chemical Protection:
If any chemical containers are being handled during a welding operation, they should be properly cleaned to get rid of any grease, acid, tar or any other flammable material.
Be very careful about cylinders. They are just disasters waiting to happen. Make sure that they are kept in an upright position in a stable place to prevent them from tipping over. Cover the valves with a cap if the cylinder is not being used.
Welding Saftey Check List:
In conclusion, welding has made our lives much easier with its various applications. However, maximum care should be taken during a welding operation to ensure safety because welding can end to be extremely dangerous. It’s like the solar eclipse, don’t watch it with a naked eye.