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Prevent and Control Fires when Welding at the Mine

Prevent and Control Fires when Welding at the Mine

A wide variety of tools and machinery are used on the mines. From all the work related activities welding are the most likely to result in burn injuries and contribute to igniting dangerous fires.
Welding, cutting, and brazing operations involve hazardous hot work. But as long as you train your employees to know the hazards and how to guard against them you can avoid incidents and injuries in your workplace. Start by revealing that the leading cause of welding accidents is carelessness. Workers need to take safety seriously and never take chances when welding, cutting, or brazing. 
Nature of the risks of Welding: Why does it matter?
About 6 percent of industrial fires resulting in loss of human life are due to unsafe welding or cutting operations. 
Fire and explosion are big welding and cutting risks. 
Welding sparks can travel as far as 6 meters, and spatter can bounce on the floor or fall through openings. 
Thee “F’s” on the path to Safety
Use the "Three Fs" of welding to make safety issues easy to remember. These Fs include the sources of hazards and the body parts that are most vulnerable. Follow each F with the safety steps workers need to take to prevent incidents and injuries: 
1. Fire (from flame, sparks, hot slag): 
  • Remove combustible materials from the area.
  • Clean all flammable substances from the work surface.
  • Cover wooden floors if possible.
  • Keep a sand bucket and fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Wear fire-resistant clothing.
2. Fumes (from heated metal):
  • Work area should be well-ventilated.
  • Wear approved respirator if required.
  • Stop working if you feel ill.
3 . Face (injuries to the face and eyes):
  • Wear a face shield to protect against eye injuries from sparks, flying particles, and radiation.
  • Realize that goggles may also be needed when chipping metal.
Guidelines to Safe Welding
Give your employees these general welding guidelines as well.
  • Read and follow equipment manufacturer's instructions, cylinder labels, and material safety data sheets (MSDSs). 
  • Wear heat- and impact-resistant eye and face coverings. 
  • Wear clothing that covers skin and can't catch sparks. 
  • Wear leather aprons, leggings, and sleeves for very hot work and dry welder's gloves for arc welding. 
  • Use respirators to prevent inhaling dangerous fumes and gases. 
  • Perform welding in areas with fire-resistant floors or floors covered with fire-resistant shields. 
  • Remove or cover flammable items in welding areas, and remove combustible trash and items that could be tripped over. 
  • Don't smoke in welding areas. 
  • Cover or close ducts that could carry sparks. 
  • Check that ventilation is adequate when welding, and set fans to blow fumes away from you. 
  • Make sure a fire watcher, with working extinguishers nearby, is available when welding. 
Pay Attention to the Type of Welding performed
Give additional instructions for the type of welding your employees perform. Customize these safety instructions for your workplace.
Gas welders:
  • Check cylinders regularly for leaks.
  • Store cylinders upright and secured in a separate, dry, ventilated, fireproof room.
  • Keep cylinders away from heat and flammables, and keep oxygen away from flammable or explosive gases.
  • Turn off cylinders when not in use.
  • Don't drop or roll cylinders. 
Arc welders:
  • Turn off welders before touching electrical parts.
  • Have separate ground for object being welded.
  • Use the correct size cable, with intact insulation.
  • Don't wear metal jewelry or weld in the rain. 
Welding in confined spaces:
  • Follow company confined space entry program.
  • Test atmosphere before entering and while working.
  • Ventilate space.
  • Keep equipment outside space.
  • Use protective equipment.
  • Have a properly equipped buddy outside, connected by a safety harness and prepared to use first-aid equipment. 
[Info with recognition to Moolmans] 

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