Of all of the hand tools on a job site, welding can be one of the most dangerous when used by an inexperienced or inattentive worker.
Welding risks include electric shock, inhalation of toxic fumes, eye injury and skin burns. Protective clothing and equipment, including helmets and shields, must be worn during all welding operations.
There are two common types of welding: Arc and oxyacetylene. Arc welding uses a welding power supply to create an electric arc between an electrode and the base material to melt the metals at the welding point. Oxyacetylene is an oxygen-fuel process that uses a variety of gases, the most common being acetylene, to weld and cut metals.
Arc welding produces a powerful light sources that includes visible, ultraviolet and infrared. While electric welding, operators must use safety goggles, a hand shield or helmet equipped with a suitable filter glass to protect against the intense ultraviolet and infrared rays. When others are in the vicinity of the electric welding process, the area must be screened so the arc cannot be seen either directly or by reflections in glass or metal. The spectrum of the welding arc is similar to that of the sun. Exposure of the skin and eyes to the arc is the same as exposure to the sun. The welder must wear a helmet for eye and face protection.
During oxyacetylene welding and cutting processes, operators must use safety goggles to protect the eyes from heat, glare, and flying fragments of hot metals.
OTHER PROTECTIVE GEAR
Welding protective gear includes:
- Respirator/Welders Mask: Use a respirator or mask that is specifically made for welding projects. If purchasing a mask with a filter, match the filter to the types of metals and coatings that are being welded.
- Keep the area clean and check any gasses for signs of leaks.
- Ventilation: All welding areas should have proper ventilation. Poor ventilation leads to "plume poisoning". If you suspect that you or someone nearby has inhaled a toxic plume seek medical help immediately.
- Storage: All flammables should be stored in a flammable liquids
- Eye protection: Welding safety helmets and shields protect against injuries from debris and from the effects of the ultraviolet light.
- Fire protection: Sparks created during the welding process can start fires. Class C extinguishers are rated for electrical fires. Sand and water can also help to extinguish fires.
- Protective clothing: All skin areas need to be protected to guard against molten metal and sparks. This includes wearing:
- Long sleeve shirts
- Pants that cover the tops of shoes
- Shoes or boots
- A welders beanie to protect hair
- Leather jackets to protect from slag and sparks
- Leather aprons to protect when sitting down
- Shoe covers called spats to protect shoes
Welding Safety Tips
Handling Metal After Welding: Use pliers when handling metals. To determine whether metal is cool enough to handle, gradually bring the back of your hand closer to the metal. If heat is felt as your hand gets closer, it is too hot to handle.
Prepare for Accidents: Keep a first aid kit on hand that includes bandages and burn spray.
Neff Rental provides welding arc and oxyacetylene equipment to construction and industrial job sites, and can be picked up at local branches or delivered to your location. For more information about the type of welding equipment available, call a nearby Neff Rental branch at 888-709-NEFF, or visit www.NeffRental.com.