Top 10 Welding Safety Precaution Tips
There are many potential risks and hazards involved in the welding process. That being said, welders need to practice safety by wearing the correct safety gear and following occupational health and safety guidelines and recommendations.
It’s also important for welders to be educated and informed about the properties of any gas, metal or substance that they might store or handle. Awareness can help you know how best to avoid or minimize risks.
Below we’ll look at some of the most common welding safety hazards and the top welding safety precaution tips to help keep you safe!
An Overview of the Most Common Welding Safety Hazards
Having knowledge about the most common types of safety risks and hazards related to welding can teach you a lot about how to keep yourself safe and protected.
Exposure to Toxic Fumes and Gases
Welding typically involves the heating and melting of metals so that they can be joined together. This process involves releasing certain gases and fumes which can be dangerous and toxic if inhaled. They can also create other hazards if they’re flammable.
If you’re working in a small room without sufficient ventilation and there’s a concentration of dangerous gases, the damage can be quite serious.
In fact, there’s no minimum safe exposure limit for welding fumes. Some of the gases that you could be exposed to include ozone, chromium gas, hydrogen fluoride, nickel oxides and carbon monoxide. That’s because welding fumes come from consumables, base metals, and the base-metal coatings that are melted and vaporized.
Some of the dangerous side effects and diseases that can be triggered by inhaling welding gases includes:
- Metal fume fever
- Kidney failure
- Lead poisoning
- Parkinson’s disease
There are many safety precautions that you can take to avoid exposure to toxic fumes. This includes using the correct protective equipment like masks and respirators, as well as a ventilation system like fans and exhaust systems.
If you’re welding metals, such as stainless steel, that often have coatings on top of the base metals, then it’s best to clean them before you weld in order to minimize risk.
Fires and Explosions
One of the most destructive and immediate life-threatening consequences of welding can be fires and explosions that occur from working with hazardous and combustible materials. Fires and explosions can cause severe damage and destruction to property.
If you use a welding arc, temperatures can reach up to around 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit! Sparks and splatter can spread far and cause fires and explosions if the correct measures haven’t been taken.
Luckily, there’s lots that can be done in the planning phase to avoid flammable materials being in the vicinity of the arc and to reduce splatter. It’s always imperative to have fire safety equipment, like alarms and extinguishers, nearby.
Welding involves working with extreme temperatures, molten metals, and even exposure to UV radiation. That means that there’s a risk of burns either to the eyes, skin, or any part of the body.
Wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is therefore a necessity to prevent burn injuries. There are many new materials like flame-resistant treated cotton clothes that have been specifically designed for welding operations. Knowing which clothes to wear and not to wear is very important, as certain types of fabric will melt in the presence of high temperatures.
Ultraviolet Radiation and Infrared Radiation
If you weld without the appropriate protective gear to shield your eyes from the bright UV light of a welding arc, you can end up with painful arc eye or even blindness. You could also get dangerous welding fumes and gases in your eyes if they aren’t properly covered, which can give you conjunctivitis (pink eye).
Long exposure to loud noises that can be generated from the welding process, such as when you cut metal with a grinder, can result in long-term damage to your ears and even permanent hearing loss. Even a once-off exposure to severe noise levels can be very damaging.
If you’re using an arc welding process, then that involves a welding pool of molten metal. If you’re not careful, you could give yourself an electric shock by touching the wrong thing without wearing the correct safety gear.
Electric shocks can create severe burns and can even be fatal. They can also cause operators to fall and get injured. Also, they can push you onto nearby equipment which can trigger a secondary electric shock. For example, if you touch the electrode and the metal base at the same time.
Certain things put you at higher risk of getting an electric shock when welding. This includes welding outside in the rain or in damp conditions, especially if you’re in wet clothing. It’s also particularly dangerous to weld on a metal floor, structure, or in a place where you don’t have enough space to move around properly.
Top 10 Welding Safety Precaution Tips
There are multiple physical hazards when it comes to welding activities – from harmful fumes, molten metal splatter, electric shock, to hot metal burns and gas explosions. That’s why we’ve put together this list of welding safety precaution measures!
1. Do a Safety Risk Assessment
It’s advisable to conduct a proper safety risk assessment in the area where you’ll be welding. This will help you see what the potential hazards are.
Then you can find ways to ensure safe operation and compliance with any occupational safety and health act or laws, like having mechanical ventilation, buckets of sand, or welding transformers.
2. Be Aware of Safety Standards and Compliance Regulations
There should be occupational safety and health standards for the general welding industry that you can refer to.
These safety guidelines and safety procedures may include having first-aid equipment nearby, owning respirators, wearing protective equipment, and other safety measures used to prevent bodily harm.
3. Wear the Appropriate Safety Gear
Welding safety precaution measures include wearing the appropriate safety gear, such as a welding helmet, ear protection, eye protection like safety glasses, welding gloves, foot protection, protective clothing, and safety belts.
In addition to wearing the proper safety gear, you should be aware of what items of clothing you should avoid wearing. For example, wet clothing could conduct electricity and expose you to burns and electric shock!
4. Maintain Your Welding Equipment
The equipment you use should be maintained and not used if broken. You should also check that you’re using the appropriate gear and that you buy welding equipment from a reputable shop.
It’s also important to make sure that you know how to use your equipment to ensure safety. For example, in terms of wire feeder safety, you shouldn’t point it towards your body and should turn the power off when adjusting the rolls.
5. Store Flammable Products Properly
Sparks from your welding arc can fly far from your work area. If there’s a nearby gas cylinder or other flammable material, this could cause a fire or explosion. That’s why you need to check your gas cylinders and the cylinder valves to ensure that there’s no possibility of gas escaping. Make sure that you store items far enough away from your welding operations.
There are many resources you can use to find out more about the correct storage and handling of compressed gas cylinders to ensure safety.
6. Clear Your Work Station
Keeping your workstation organized is important to help protect against possible contamination, avoid flammable materials that could cause fires or explosions, and to avoid the risk of electric shock.
When working with a welding circuit and molten metal splatter, you don’t want to run the risk of having substances on your workstation that could cause you harm or create toxic substances!
7. Have Proper Ventilation
Since exposure to welding fumes and gas welding flux can expose you to toxic materials, it’s vital to have adequate ventilation and ventilating systems.
There are no acceptable concentrations of these toxic substances, so it’s always a good idea to ensure safety and avoid health complications by wearing the correct safety gear, like masks and respirators, in addition to having good airflow and ventilation.
There are also many different local occupational safety guidelines and laws when it comes to welding and ventilation. Make sure that you check these to see if you need natural ventilation, mechanical ventilation, or local exhaust ventilation. This will depend on whether you’re welding in a confined area or not, the area or country in which you live, and the type of metals, fluxes and fillers you’re working with.
8. Make Sure You Buy Certified Products from Reputable Dealers and Shops
There are many places where you can buy welding equipment. You might be tempted to go with the cheapest option or even buy them used, but, as the safety risks of welding activities can be severe, it’s best to buy welding equipment from reputable dealers and shops!
This way you know that you’ve done the best you can in order to ensure your own safety and the safety of others in your vicinity.
9. Be Prepared for Fires and Explosions
As there’s always a risk of fire and explosions when welding, it’s best to be prepared in case that should happen. Make sure you have access to a fire extinguisher, buckets of sand, and other tools to help you put out a fire and respond to explosions.
If you’re welding in range of flammable materials, you should place some sheet metal for a fire resistant blanket over these materials to avoid sparks from creating fires or explosions.
10. Protect Yourself From Burns and Radiation
When you’re working with molten metal, radiant energy, combined with a power source and welding circuit, then there’s always the possibility of injuries or harm.
That’s why welding safety precaution measures include wearing appropriate personal protective equipment, like safety goggles, earmuffs, welding gloves, hand shields, aprons, and other materials to protect you against burns and radiation.
Make sure your protective clothing is in good condition and doesn’t have any holes in it. Everything should be flame resistant and heat resistant. Remember to remove anything that’s combustible before you begin welding and don’t wear clothes that have pockets or openings where molten metal can get trapped.
Basic and advanced welding processes can carry many risks and hazards. That’s because any welding operation can involve working with electrodes, a welding arc, a welding cable, conductive material, different welding power sources, gases in cylinders, and gas welding fluxes.
Protective clothing is one of the basic precautions you can take. However, knowing about common welding hazards, welding safety guidelines, and safety procedures can really help you be prepared and better informed about how to address risks and hazards.
These top 10 welding safety precaution tips are intended to help you do just this – to be prepared and proactively assess your risks in order to take measures to address them!