Top 4 Welding Safety Hazards
Why is Welding Safety Important?
Welding is a hazardous workplace activity which exposes over half a million workers to health and safety risks each year in the United States alone. Welding safety measures are designed to protect employees from welding hazards. Welding safety can be implemented by conducting proper training, inspecting welding equipment, and ensuring workers are aware of safety precautions before performing welding activities to minimize the risk of health and safety injuries.
Exposure to Fumes and Gases
Overexposure to welding fumes and gases can cause severe health problems like respiratory illnesses, cancer, and impaired speech and movement. Exposure to fumes and gases can be controlled by following these safety precautions:
- Provide adequate ventilation and local exhaust to keep fumes and gases from the breathing zone and the general area.
- Welding operators should always wear an approved respirator unless exposure assessments are below applicable exposure limits.
- Report concerns to a supervisor so your exposure to substances of the welding fumes can be checked.
Physical hazards that can cause burns, eye damage, cuts, and crushed toes and fingers are ever-present when welding. With the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), you can protect your workers against physical hazards.
- Wear appropriate PPE like welding helmet and goggles to protect workers’ eyes and head from hot slag, sparks, intense light, and chemical burns.
- Fire and electricity resistant clothing, hand shields, welding gloves, aprons, and boots can be worn to protect workers from heat, fires, electrocution, and burns. Take note that flame retardant treatments become less effective with repeated laundering. Pant legs must not have cuffs and must cover the tops of the boots. Cuffs can collect sparks.
- Earmuffs and earplugs can also protect workers against noise.
Electrocution is the most immediate and serious risk for a welder. The sudden discharge of electricity to the human body can cause serious injury and even death. Electrocution risk from welding can be minimized by following these basic precautions:
Fire and Explosion
Flammable materials around the working area are the number one cause of a fire. This can be prevented by maintaining a clean working area before proceeding to weld. It is also important to know the location of fire alarms, emergency exits, and fire extinguishers in the event of a fire.
- Keep a suitable Class ABC fire extinguisher nearby while welding. Make sure the extinguisher gauge is full. If an extinguisher is not available, be sure to have access to fire hoses, sand buckets or other equipment that douses a fire.
- If welding within 35 feet of flammable materials, put a piece of sheet metal or fire-resistant blanket over the flammable material and have a fire watcher nearby to keep track of sparks.
- Remain in the work area for at least 30 minutes after finishing welding to ensure there are no smoldering fires.
Featured Welding Safety Checklists
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