Welding is a common practice utilized within many different work environments, all the way from the ambitious underwater welding jobs which involve welding in the water to repair ships or pipelines, all the way to more standardized industrial welding within the manufacturing sector. However, welding involves the use of extremely hot and bright energy which can pose many safety risks. In order to keep employees protected from the dangers associated with welding, certain safety precautions should be set in place regarding personal protective equipment and proper ventilation.
Personal Protective Equipment
Welding without proper personal protective equipment (PPE) is like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute, you are going to get severely hurt or even killed. The use of PPE is essential to the safety and well-being of any welder. Some common types of PPE used in welding include a welding helmet, UV blocking goggles, flame-resistant gloves, respirator or similar breathing equipment, and a hand shield. The types of PPE used usually depend somewhat upon the type of weld being conducted. There are many different welds from arc welding to gas welding and the type of welding really elicits the type of protection warranted. However, it is crucial that any PPE used is capable of withstanding the welding conditions; there are different levels of protection based on shading, electrode, and arc current. An easy way to think of this may be to think in terms of sunscreen, an SPF 15 is not going to provide as much protection from the sun as an SPF 50.
Importance of Ventilation When Welding
The practice of welding can generate dangerous or unsafe airborne contaminants which must be flushed from the air using either a natural or mechanical ventilation system. There are different requirements in place for either type of ventilation based on the type of weld, size of welding space, and whether the type of welding emits more or less contaminants. Ventilation is an important part of a safe welding environment; nobody wants to get lung disease from breathing in contaminated air while welding.
OSHA’s Guidelines for Welding Safety
OSHA outlines specific safety guidelines regarding fire safety while welding in 29 CFR 1910.252. Some of the main guidelines include the following:
“Helmets or hand shields shall be used during all arc welding or arc cutting operations, excluding submerged arc welding. Helpers or attendants shall be provided with proper eye protection.”
“Goggles or other suitable eye protection shall be used during all gas welding or oxygen cutting operations. Spectacles without side shields, with suitable filter lenses are permitted for use during gas welding operations on light work, for torch brazing or for inspection.”
Safety is one of the top priorities when welding. When employees are welding, it is imperative to make sure that they are trained properly regarding the health and safety of themselves as well as other welders in the area as well. Never underestimate the power of personal protective equipment and proper ventilation while welding, together they can truly either make or break the safety of any welding situation.