A fireproof workplace and personal protective equipment are critical for safe welding. Welding is a hot work process due a gas flame, an electric arc, a laser or other dangerous heat source.
Employees must be properly protected from the high heat and arc flash produced in the welding process. Follow rules in ANSI Z49, the guide for safe welding.
Flame resistant (FR) clothing will prevent burns. UV filters in goggles and helmets will shield the welder from eye injuries such as arc eye and flash burns.
Maintain industrial hygiene with a breathing zone for workers with adequate ventilation, masks or respirators to avoid toxic fumes.
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Dan Clark: Every day is the Fourth of July when you’re welding, but it’s much more dangerous.
Hello, this is Dan Clark of The Safety Brief. This is where we talk about health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites.
It’s classified as a “hot work” process. Welding involves flame or open electric arc, so the risk of fire and burns is high. A huge concern: fire. Whether it’s shielded metal arc, or TIG, or MIG, it’s welding, and sparks fly. So, the space needs to be fireproof. Scan the work area and think:
* What is the floor made of? Wood is no good. Plastic tiles can melt.
* Counters and cabinets. Are they made from trees? Pick another location.
* What is the work surface made of? You want something that doesn’t conduct heat.
* How about the clutter in the area? Pack up and move out any potentially flammable debris.
* Make sure the welding torch only touches what you’re working on.
The welding process and humans don’t mix well. Guard against burns, eye injuries, and toxic air.
Burns. They can be severe since the welder is up close and personal with about a bazillion degrees. PPE is mandatory: a face shield, heavy gloves and flame retardant longsleeve jackets. Avoid loose clothing. The temperature and type of welding will impact what kinds of PPE you need. Follow OSHA and ANSI guidelines. ANSI Z49 focuses on safe welding.
Eye Injuries. The bright light produced in the weld area leads to flash burns or arc eye. Ultraviolet light inflames the cornea and burns the retina. Cheap sunglasses won’t help. The welder can safely see using dark UV filtering faceplates in goggles and helmets. Some new helmets have a faceplate that darkens immediately when exposed to intense UV.
Toxic Air. Maintain a breathing zone so the welder does not inhale carbon dioxide, ozone and other toxic fumes. Shielded metal arc and flux cored arc welding spew out smoke with oxides. The smallest particles are not filtered by the lungs and can go through the blood brain barrier. Exposure to manganese welding fumes can cause manganism and Parkinson’s disease both of which cause tremors and loss of muscle control. So, that breathing zone means use a respirator, or a mask or ventilate the room.
Now you’re safe welding, you can breathe easy. That’s it for this episode. Come back for more hot tips on how to stay safety compliant in today’s ever-changing landscape of safety requirements. This is Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, sponsored by Creative Safety Supply. See their website at creativesafetysupply.com