Believe it or not despite all the sparks, heat, and noise, welding is a safe job IF you adhere to full and proper safety precautions. It’s when safety measures are ignored, either accidentally or blatantly, that problems can ensue. With this in mind, we thought that it would be a good idea to mention 5 potential hazards of welding that you really should be looking out for.
This is probably the most serious hazard a welder faces and can easily lead to severe injury or death. For instance if a welder holds a bare wire in one hand and a subsequent bare wire in the other, and attempts to weld them together, electric current will pass through the wire and the operator. The higher the voltage, the higher the current and therefore the possibility of greater injury. An arc welding circuit for example can give off a secondary voltage shock ranging from 20 to 100 volts. This is enough to injure and in some cases kill an operator. To avoid shocks from happening always insulate yourself from the work and the ground by wearing protective clothing, in particular dry gloves. If you’re arc welding always make sure the insulator cable is in good condition and never attempt to repair welding equipment unless you’re a qualified repair technician.
It’s no surprise that in addition to heat and sparks welding often gives off a variety of fumes and gases which can be hazardous to health. Metal oxide compounds for example found in base metals, base metal coatings, and consumables, can be particularly dangerous if breathed in. Therefore always ensure adequate ventilation. If the air that you’re breathing doesn’t seem comfortable then stop immediately and make sure that all ventilation equipment is functioning correctly.
Fire and heat
While an arc welder can reach temperatures in excess of 5000 degrees Celsius this isn’t the main hazard. Instead the main area of concern is the intense heat created near the arc and the spatter, heat, and sparks which go with it. Sparks can be expelled over 10 metres from the welding action so make sure that combustible materials such as wood, paper, gasoline, or paint are removed far enough from the welding area and the possible area of sparks.
Insufficient PPE injuries
Personal protection equipment should be worn to keep operators free from injury. Leather and flame resistant treated cotton is the best form of PPE with safety visas to protect the eyes from sparks. Injuries often occur when PPE equipment isn’t properly worn. For example when cuffs or trouser legs are rolled up hot metal may deposit in the folds and may start burning through the material. The same applies if protective trousers are tucked inside of work boots, instead of wearing them as they should be on the outside of boots.
Finally welders should also be aware of other considerations such as working in a confined space, nearby personnel, and any clutter or debris that may represent a trip hazard.
By following these safety precautions and using a sprinkling of common sense operators can get the job done while keeping safe.
If you have a welding project but don’t have the skills or the equipment to tackle it yourself then contact Metro Steel. We’ve been in the fabrication industry for many years and as such our highly experienced team can help. Contact us on 07 3204 1000 for a free no obligation quote.