Safety is always a priority for welders. According to Occupational Health and Safety, there are five potential welding safety hazards to avoid – electric shock, fumes and gases, fire and explosions, injuries from insufficient PPE, and other safety considerations. Here we give you some welding clothing tips, what to wear and what not to wear to protect yourself from these welding hazards and avoid them while at work.
Welding Clothing tips to keep safe from the 5 Welding Safety Hazards
Electric shock happens when a welder touches two metal objects that have a voltage between them. For example, if a welder holds a wire in one hand and a second wire with another. Electric current will pass through the wire and then through the welder which can then cause an electric shock.
Secondary voltage shock which ranges from 20-100 volts is the most common type of electric shock. Fifty (50) volts or less can be enough to cause death.
Among all the safety hazards, electric shock is one of the most threatening of them all. This can lead to severe injury or even death. This can either be caused by the shock itself or from the fall as a reaction to the shock.
Welding clothing tips to avoid electric shock:
To protect oneself from electric shock, wear rubber boots and rubber pads, especially when working in wet or humid conditions. Make sure your hands are dry during a welding operation. Wear rubber gloves under the welding gloves to get maximum protection. Also, use an insulation mat under the operator.
Fumes and Gases
Exposure to fumes and gases is hazardous the health. As a welder, you get exposed to these every day. These fumes contain harmful metal oxide compounds from base metal, consumables, and base metal coatings.
It’s very important that you keep your head out of these fumes and have enough ventilation so you can control your exposure to them.
Welding clothing tips avoid fumes and gases:
Position your face as far as possible from the fumes while at work. Also, wear an approved respirator to make sure you don’t exceed the OSHA permissible exposure limits to these fumes. Another tip would be to remove any coating of paint from the metal you’re welding to avoid the production of other toxic gases.
Fire and Explosions
A welding arc produces extreme temperatures that can reach 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit which becomes a fire explosion hazard. The arch itself isn’t the real danger. It’s the heat near the arc and the sparks and spatters created by it. These sparks can reach up to 35 feet away from a welding space and can reach flammable materials around or clothing that are not flame resistant which can then cause fires and explosions.
Welding clothing tips to avoid fire and explosions:
Before welding, remove any flammable materials from the area or put a flame-retardant blanket or welding blanket over flammable materials to be extra safe. These could either be liquid (gasoline and oil), solid (wood, paper, cardboard), or gas (acetylene, hydrogen, propane). Make sure to use Flame Retardant or FR clothing. These include your FR welding jacket, FR welding pants, FR welding shirts, and other welding protective clothing like leather welding aprons, welding spats, welding hoods, and welding sleeves that give extra protection from welding sparks and splatters.
Injuries/burns from Insufficient PPE
The most common injury welders get while at work are welding burns. This happens when welding operators have insufficient personal protective equipment while working.
Welding clothing tips to avoid injuries/burns:
The right welding PPE allows adequate movement and comfort while also providing protection from welding hazards. Choose leather and flame retardant-treated cotton welding clothing. These are the best if you’re looking for durability and fire resistance properties.
In wearing welding PPE, avoid rolling up your sleeves or pant cuffs and keep your welding pants over work boots to avoid any deposit of sparks or hot metal. Wear a helmet and wear safety glasses to prevent sparks from hitting the eyes. Use leather boots that give ankle coverage or wear leather welding spats to get foot protection.
Use flame-retardant gloves to protect your hands from burns and scratches or other injuries you get from electric shocks. Use helmets with shields to protect the eyes and skin from exposure to arc rays. To protect your ears from noise, wear earmuffs or hearing protection to protect your hearing from any damage. This would also prevent metal or any other debris from entering the ear canal.
Other Safety considerations within the work environment
Never underestimate other safety considerations within the work environment like working in a confined space or in an elevated area, paying attention to safety data sheets by the manufacturer or safety information on products used, and knowing the proper safety practices in the workplace.
While complete welding PPE from head to toe is a must for protection, common sense in the workplace is also key. Remove clutter or debris, keep hands away from sharp edges, and follow simple safe practices and tips that can go a long way and minimize any workplace injuries.