Although we have a pretty good idea as to what protective equipment welders should have, the better question to ask is, “What shouldn’t welders wear when welding?”
As a welder, you need to be choosy about what you wear when you’re working on welding projects. Your safety is your top priority, so making sure your clothes protect you from UV exposure, burns, and other harmful things is quintessential.
The Worst Material for Welding Clothing
Synthetic materials are the worst type of materials to use for welding clothing. They’re a big issue because they melt under heat and may potentially burn your skin. Synthetic materials like polyester or polyester blend easily and ignite and burn vigorously. Oil, greases, and combustible contaminants are other materials that welding clothing should never get in contact with. In addition, don’t wear rings or other types of jewelry while welding.
What Welders Should Wear Instead
Welders should go for clothing that is heavyweight, tightly woven or made of 100% cotton or wool to protect themselves from UV radiation, open flames, sparks, and hot metal. It is ideal to wear long-sleeved shirts that have buttoned cuffs and preferable a collar for added neck protection. The shirt pockets should be closed to avoid collecting hot metal or sparks. Covering pockets with flaps will also work. As to the color choice, wear dark-colored clothing to prevent light reflection.
If you’re wearing pants, be sure that the pant legs do not have cuffs because cuffs can collect sparks. Check all the frayed edges, holes, and tears in clothing – assure they’re all repaired. It’s best to wear gauntlet-type cuff leather sleeves or gloves to protect your forearms and wrists. Leather is a great insulator for electricity. Wear leather aprons, too, so your chest and lap are protected when standing or sitting.
Use high-top boots that are fully laced so you prevent sparks from entering into the boots. Fire-resistant boot spats or protectors strapped around the pant legs and boot tops are highly recommended.
Protection from Welding Radiation
To protect yourself from welding radiation, wear tightly woven fabrics that are a proper weight for work-related jobs. These keep UV radiation from reaching your skin. Your shirt should also be buttoned up to protect your throat and neck. Cover your head with a fabric cap so your scalp is protected from UV radiation. For the back of your head, use a hood. Protect your face by wearing an opaque welder’s helmet. A welder’s face shield is also good to use for protection against flying particles and radiation. Finally, use a shield that can keep sparks spray away from your clothing.
In all things welding, make sure that all fabric is resistant to heat, flame, and spark. The fabric should also be free from combustible materials. You don’t want to have any material on you that could get ignited by a spark.