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Potential Welding Safety Hazards to Avoid

Potential Welding Safety Hazards to Avoid

Welding is a necessary part of many manufacturing processes, and comes with its own set of risks. However, many people are not aware of what the safety hazards are. For those who are wondering how to weld aluminium, steel or copper safely, outlined below are some of the most common safety hazards involved with welding and how to avoid them.

 

Electric shock

Electric shock is one of the most serious and immediate hazards that welders face. It can lead to severe injuries and even death, as it  occurs when welders touch two metal objects that have a voltage between them, putting themselves into the electrical current. 

In welding, the most common electric shock hazard comes from secondary voltage shock from an arc welding circuit which ranges from 20 to 100 volts. To avoid this, welding operators should wear dry gloves when operating the machinery, avoid touching the electrode or electrode parts with skin or wet clothing and should always insulate themselves from the work and ground. 

 

Hazardous fumes and gases

The second most common safety hazard that welders face is coming into contact with hazardous fumes and gases. The fumes released from welding can contain metal oxide particles which can be harmful to lungs and skin. 

Proper safety regulations state that when welding, you will need to work in areas that have sufficient ventilation and exhaust control. Welders should also wear nose and mouth protection, such as respirators, and should try at all times to keep their head out of the fumes. The exposure levels need to be checked on a regular basis in order to ensure the health and safety of workers. 

 

Arc rays and sparks

Arc rays and sparks can burn skin and harm eyes if a welder is not properly dressed. These dangers are the most visible and therefore the most preventable, but it is important that protection is not taken for granted when welding. 

To avoid being burnt by arc rays and sparks, welders will need to protect their eyes with a regulation welding helmet that is fitted with the correct grade of filter plate. Even brief exposure of the eyes to these rays can cause discomfort, swelling and even temporary blindness. Welders will need to ensure that their clothing is completely flame-resistant and should wear ankle-length or higher boots. 

 

Improper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)

Personal protective equipment should be worn at all times and should be used in conjunction with engineering controls and safe work practices. Not wearing the correct eye shields or eye shields with incorrect filter plates can be highly hazardous, as cannot utilising a powered air respirator system. 

To avoid these hazards, it is highly advisable to wear the correct PPE at all times. Welders need to ensure that every piece of protective equipment meets industry standards and that all repairs and replacements are carried out timeously. Using further protection, such as wearing safety goggles underneath a welding helmet will ensure that your eyes are properly protected, and wearing a leather apron over your flame-resistant clothing is an effective extra measure. 

 

Fires or explosions

One of the major hazards of welding is that the sparks from welding arc can ignite when hit flammable material, causing a fire or explosion. The extreme temperature of the welding arc can contribute to explosions, due to the friction that can take place during the process. 

To avoid fires or explosions, welders will need to ensure that there are no liquid, gas or solid flammable materials in or around their work area. Fire extinguishers need to be within immediate reach should a fire occur, and additional fire prevention systems can be fitted to the fume exhausts. Welders could also keep buckets of sand nearby in case they need extra extinguishing power, as water cannot be used in a welding fire. 

 

Other safety considerations

Outlined above are some of the major safety concerns faced by welders, but there are others that need to be taken into account to ensure the safety of workers. Clutter and debris should be removed from the welding area, as welders need plenty of room to manoeuvre while working. 

Ear plugs or ear muffs are essential to avoid hearing loss associated with welding machinery and should be manufactured with non-flammable materials. Welders should avoid the sharp edges of the metal they are welding, as these can cause serious injuries. Make sure that all equipment is functioning properly before use. 

 

Conclusion

Welding is a necessary part of many manufacturing processes, and if practised correctly it can be a safe and simple procedure. Welders need to ensure that they are wearing the correct PPE and are not working near any flammable materials. The correct ventilation is vital in order to avoid the inhalation of any hazardous gases. Other workers should not be in close proximity to the welding equipment while it is in use. 
 

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