Safety is paramount in the welding profession. Welding, after all, involves high temperatures and melting metal to create new substances. Safety hazards in this profession are wide-ranging and include electric shocks, burns, inhalation of fumes and dust of welding fluxes or slag. This is especially dangerous since such fumes are highly toxic when heated. Fumes or gases from the arc or flame can irritate the skin, eyes, and lungs. It is necessary to enact precautionary measures to prevent such potential hazards in the welding practice.
Welding Hazards In Detail
Numerous welding hazards correlate with the worker’s mishappening, ignorance or carelessness during work. Following are some of the dangers that individuals face.
1. Electric Shock or Current
This occurs when metal is being welded or the welding equipment is being prepared, transported or stored. Electric shock may also occur while metal is being severed with a welding machine. These hazards have different levels of severity depending on the voltage of the electric current and the length of contact with the source of current.
For instance, if hands come into contact with 120 volts through a current-carrying conductor such as an extension cord for more than 30 seconds, serious internal injuries can occur. If the current is stopped, it may take several minutes for the symptoms to disappear.
This can result from excessive heat generated during welding. Burns also occur when electrical resistance in clothing or skin is brought into contact with welding hot metal or flux. As a result of contact, burns occur and must be treated immediately to prevent infection. Burns caused by welding differ in severity depending on the cause and level of electrical current.
3. Inhalation of Gases and Flowing Fumes
Hazardous fumes are generated during heating or cutting metals such as magnesium, aluminum, carbon steel etc. Such fumes are more easily produced when welding is done with the aid of oxyacetylene equipment.
These fumes can be toxic if inhaled in sufficient quantities. The most common hazardous gas that comes from welding is carbon dioxide which is used to produce heat inside the arc. This is a normal process but still needs to be treated with great care. The fumes also encourage a need for respiratory protection, such as masks or respirators. However, not all gases have this effect. One should be careful when he or she is around the welding area, particularly when googles are unavailable.
The symptoms or illnesses caused by the inhalation of gases are as follows.
Prolonged exposure to gases produced during welding can cause serious illnesses. Most likely, in the form of pneumonia. Carbon dioxide gas is highly irritating to the lungs and can be dangerous if ignored. Some antibiotics may be required to prevent pneumonia. However, a severe case of this disease could lead to hospitalization.
● Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide gas that is produced during welding may cause carbon monoxide poisoning. It happens due to the incomplete combustion of carbon. This is caused by the inhalation of toxic gases formed when the metal being welded combines with oxygen in the air or under pressure in a confined container.
Cancer is considered to be a significant danger in most cases. It’s one of the long-term effects of the welding process. It often goes unnoticed until it’s too late. When welding metals, it may cause problems in your lungs due to the excessive fumes emitted through your lungs and into the bloodstream. Over time this could lead to either lung cancer or blood cancer which are both quite deadly.
Welding Safety Tips
Welding safety should never be ignored, and if you follow these tips, there’s a high chance you’ll stay unaffected by the dangers of this hazardous job.
1. Protect your eyes
It’s necessary to protect your eyes from the bright light that comes from the welding process. The goggles should always be worn and adjusted accordingly to prevent incidents such as burns and blindness. Eye injuries are one of the most common and easily preventable obstacles in welding. Such hazards should never be ignored. Different kinds of high-quality visors are available within goggles and welding helmets nowadays.
Such visors are covered with protective layers soaked in a solution to help protect your eyes from the harmful rays.
2. Wear A Mask Or Respirator
When welding, it’s necessary to wear respiratory protection to avoid breathing in harmful gases and fumes during the process. Some of the gases and fumes include hydrogen fluoride (HF), sulfur dioxide (SO), nitrogen dioxide (NO), carbon monoxide (CO), and oxides of nitrogen (NOx). A respirator can be used in an emergency if a person has inhaled a high dose.
3. Wear Protective Clothing
Protective clothing can save you from a lot of pain and even save you from fatal outcomes. This is why it’s necessary to wear protective gear such as sleeves, aprons or jackets to avoid skin contact with the hot material being welded. The aerial sparks that form through the tool can produce skin rashes and pores. Leather boots are also an essential feature of safety.
4. Wear High-Quality Welding Gloves
It’s essential to have high-quality gloves which can protect you from the heat generated during welding. This will prevent contact with harmful materials such as slag and sparks. Such gloves also help provide comfort and ease to the user.
5. Keep Your Work Area Clean
A clean working area will help reduce accidents in the workplace. Never leave your welding machine lying around as this can cause accidents to happen. You can prevent any accidents by keeping proper workstations for use and ensuring that they are well maintained.
6. Work in Oil-Free Areas
It’s best to avoid welding close to areas that have oil or grease because this could ignite the product under the hood. It’s also important to keep such places away from water which can hamper the welding process and even cause fire to erupt.
7. Maintain Your Welding Machine
Regular checks and maintenance of your machine are required to keep it in good shape and prevent any accidents from happening. Only use tools for their intended purposes and turn them off or keep them in a safe place when not in use.
8. Wear Ventilated Protective Gear
During the process of welding, heat and sparks are generated from the metal. This is dangerous since it can cause your body to heat up in long welding sessions. It’s necessary to wear ventilated protective gear to protect yourself from this heat if you want to avoid overexertion or dehydration.
Welding is considered a hazardous job and should only be performed by a professional and trained individual or team. Welding is a skill that takes training and experience to master. However, there is a popular misconception that it is an easy job to perform and anyone can do it. This job can expose your body to severe injury, pain and even death. If any person doubts their welding ability, it’s best not to work on it for safety reasons. As far as industrial welding processes are concerned, workers need to work with basic and additional safety precautions. They need to work on risk analysis and follow an employee safety training program to keep an updated view on fire and welding hazards. Some of the welding materials used are welding mask, welding hood, welding gloves and other essentials.