Last Updated on Mar 18, 2022
Welding is a hazardous activity, and welders require personal protective equipment (PPE). Some of the dangers involved in welding include exposure to UV radiation, met fumes, burns, cuts, shocks, and broken toes.
According to the American Welding Society (AWS) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), using welding safety equipment and wearing head-to-toe protection is the best way for welders to stay safe on the job. When welders have proper welding protective equipment, it decreases their chances of suffering from work-related injuries.
Welding Hazards – Why Welding PPE Is Important
There are various chemical and physical hazards involved during welding and thus the need for persona protective equipment. Every welder has a personal responsibility to ensure they are well trained and equipped to deal with hazards that pose a potential health risk. Here are some major hazards welder may encounter.
Flying Particles and Fumes
During welding operations, fumes and particles are created, and they are potentially dangerous when inhaled. Prolonged exposure to these fumes, especially during the machining process, can cause severe respiratory problems in welders. Some common occupational health-related issues include impaired lung function, asthma, skin burns, and chronic bronchitis.
Using protective equipment like gloves and masks and safety garments like coveralls can help prevent skin contact with fumes and flying particles. Welding screens are also important for protecting your environment and exposure to UV.
Metalworking fluids involved in welding contain harmful contamination and are alarming dangerous. Therefore, welders need to take protective measures to improve their safety in the workplace. Wearing protective gear such as masks, gloves, boots, and welding coveralls will go a long way to enhance their protection against hazards.
Electric shocks are a common welding hazard and can be life-threatening. Welders need to guard against electric shocks due to the tools used in arc welding. Electric shocks usually occur when welders touch two metals charged with electricity at the same time. Workers can carefully inspect the workplace to detect any potential risks of electric shocks and improve the working environment. Wearing personal protective gear can also improve their safety during welding.
Fire and Explosions
Fire and explosions are usually a result of arc welding, which creates high temperatures. The sparks, heat, and spatter created during the operations are the real cause for alarm. Every welder should ensure that their workplace does not have flammable materials.
Personal protective gear is crucial in protecting welders from injuries, burns, and exposure to arc rays.
Wearing proper welding safety gear and protective equipment will allow you to move freely and offer sufficient protection against welding hazards. For clothing, welders should wear coveralls or flame-resistant cotton garments.
Welders should pay attention to all safety data sheets, procedures, and information given by the manufacturer during welding operations. Since not all welding jobs are the same, you can get tailor-made coveralls, gloves, bib pants, coats, and any other welding PPE from a safety garments manufacturer.
Types of Welding Safety Equipment
Eyes and Face Protection
To protect your head, eyes, and face, you need protective equipment such as a welding helmet, goggles, and hand shield. Welding arcs produce intensely brilliant lights that have UV light which can damage your eyes. You should not look directly into the arc with the naked eye within a distance of 50.0 ft. The danger of the light, the exact spectrum, and brilliance depend on the welding process, the length of the arc, the arc atmosphere, the metals in the arc, and the welding current.
Welders and any operator working closely need to protect themselves against arc radiation. The higher the arc voltage and current, the higher the intensity of the light from the arc. Like all forms of light radiation, arc radiation reduces with the square of the distance.
Smoke acts as a filter for radiation, meaning that welding operations that produce smoke have a less bright arc. Prolonged exposure of the eyes and skin to the welding arc has the same effect as sun radiation since they have the same spectrum.
A welder requires a helmet for protection against harmful particles and light of hot metal from reaching the face and eyes. A welding helmet usually comes with a headband that you can adjust to be used by people with different head sizes. Most helmets have a dull black color that helps to minimize glare and reflection produced by the intense light.
Helmets should fit over your head with a mechanism to swing them upwards when you are not welding. Using a helmet has various advantages, chief among them being it leaves both your hands-free so that you can weld while holding the work.
A hand-held shield offers that same protection as a helmet, although you have to hold it in place by the handle. They are ideal for quick welding jobs or on-lookers observing the welding process. You can insert cover glass and the filter plate the lens holder present in the protective welding helmet. The lens holders can flip or open upwards in certain helmets. Filter plates have a standard size of 50 by 108 mm.
Lenses absorb the ultraviolet and infrared rays produced by the arc to prevent eye damage and flash burns. Filter plates or glasses have various optical densities that help to filter out different light intensities. This usually depends on the type of base metal, welding process, and the welding current.
The lens color can be blue, green, or brown, which acts as extra protection against the intensity of glare or white light. When you use colored lenses, you will be able to see the metal and weld clearly. Sometimes, you may find a filter glass with a magnifier lens behind it to offer clear vision.
The filter glass can also have a cover plate on the outside to protect it from weld spatter. It should also be tempered to prevent it from breaking when hit by a flying weld spatter. All filter glasses should have a marker that indicates the shade number and the impact resistance treatment, which is usually marked by the letter H.
Safety goggles are crucial eye protection gear during all-electric welding processes. Wearing safety goggles will protect your eyes from weld spatter that may find its way into the helmet. Welding goggles should be clear as they protect the eyes from slag particles from hot sparks and chipping, especially when using an angle grinder.
During welding operations, avoid wearing contact lenses. When grinding or chipping, it is better to use tinted safety goggles with side shields. If people are working near welding operations, they should also wear safety goggles.
Protective clothing worn during welding operations varies depending on the work’s nature, size, and location. Common protective clothing includes coat welding gloves, leg protection, and sleeves. These garments should be worn to fully cover the body to prevent arc rays from penetrating the skin. It’s crucial to keep protective clothing dry, especially the gloves.
Woolen clothing is preferred over cotton wool since they are not easily damaged or burned by weld spatter. They also offer more protection from weather changes. If you have to use cotton clothing, ensure it is chemically treated to reduces its combustibility. Any other clothing worn should be free from grease or oil.
Ensure that you wear welding jackets or flameproof aprons made of leather or fire-resistant material to protect yourself from radiated heat, spatter of molten metal, and sparks. You should also wear shoulder covers or capes during cutting operations or overhead welding. You can also wear leather skull caps to protect your head from burns.
Ensure that you button your collars and sleeves to prevent sparks from rolling up the sleeves, cuffs of overalls and trousers, or pockets of clothing. Aprons and overalls should also not have front pockets. Your overalls and trousers should not be turned up on the outside. High boots and fire-resistant leggings should be used for heavy work.
Protective gloves should be made of flameproof material or leather to protect the arms and hand from arc rays, sparks, molten metal spatter, and hot metal. Ensure that your leather gloves are thick enough to prevent them from wearing out quickly. You should not use leather gloves to pick up hot items as they can crack or become stiff. Additionally, protect your glove from grease or oil as this may reduce its flame resistance.
Welding Safety Gear — Why Quality Protective Equipment Is Important
A good welding safety plan should include protective equipment. Head protectors are crucial for protecting you from heavy or sharp falling objects. They can also protect you from bumping your head, especially when working in confined spaces.
Ear protection and steel-toed boots should be used for cutting and welding overhead or in confined spaces. Welding knee pads are useful when welding down low. Before starting your welding operation, ensure you screen the nearby area to protect passers-by and nearby workers from the welding glare.
Taking these welding precautions and wearing protective gear will protect you and other people from harm. Ensure that you are familiar with the manual of every machine you are operating for proper usage. Clean and store your gear safely to ensure it lasts longer.