Common Welding Safety Hazards
Welders work with an increased risk of injury. These hazards can impact the health of their entire body. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 6030 days of lost labor due to non-fatal welding injuries in 2019* To help ensure work safety and efficiently, welders must wear proper Personal Protective Equipment from head to toe.
Cuts, eye damage, burns, crushed toes and fingers are all physical hazards that are often associated. Exposure to intense ultraviolet radiation, can result in temporary blindness and extreme discomfort to the eyes. Most severe welding-related eye injuries result in permanent blindness.
EXPOSURE TO FUMES & GASES
Fumes and gases created in the welding process can cause severe health problems for welders as they are classified carcinogens. Overexposure to these fumes could lead to respiratory illnesses, cancer and impaired speech and movement.
FIRE & EXPLOSIONS
Extreme temperatures can spark and spatter up to 35 feet away. This extreme heat can cause injury and the arc spark could catch flammable material on fire in the work area.
Selecting PPE for Total Coverage
To help ensure work safety and efficiently, welders must wear proper Personal protective equipment from head to toe.
Welding helmets are the first line of defense. Helmets can be manufactured with filter lens that can shade the eyes at a level that corresponds to that of the arc radiation generated by the application, as laid out in OSHA standard 1910.252. There are two main types of welding helmets: those with passive lenses and those with auto-darkening filter (ADF) lenses.
Passive Lenses. Helmets with passive lenses feature a fixed shade glass or poly carbonate lens that the welder can see through to conduct his work.
- ADF Lenses. ADF lenses in helmets automatically darken in response to a change in light intensity
In addition to light protection, welder’s helmets also protect their eyes and head from flying debris, weld splatter and slag, and sparks and flame.
Prolonged exposure to extreme noise can lead to hearing loss. Welders must comply with OSHA’s noise standard, 29 CFR 1910. 95. This standard requires use of hearing protection when the employee’s noise exposure exceeds an eight hour, time-weighted average sound level of 90 dBA.
Ear plugs offer great protection since they do not interfere with other PPE. Newer product advancements offer more comfort, provide higher levels of hearing protection and exert less pressure on the ear canal than older models.
Low-profile earmuffs are another option. These are a versatile solution that can still be worn comfortably under the welding helmet. They work well to protect the ears from noise as well as from sparks or splatter from entering the ear canal.
According to ANSI Z49.1-2012, Welding and Cutting (4.3), “Appropriate protective clothing for any welding or cutting operation will vary with the size, nature and location of the work to be performed. Clothing shall provide sufficient coverage and be made of suitable materials to minimize skin burns caused by sparks, spatter or radiation. Covering all parts of the body is recommended to protect against ultraviolet and infrared ray flash burn.”
Welders should wear oil-free, flame-resistant, non-melting protective. Approved styles include:
- leather leggings
- Insulated flame-resistant gloves
Footwear should include flame-retardant leather, abrasion- and heat-resistant stitching, protective metatarsal shields, anti-slip soles and heavy-duty rubber outsoles that are heat-resistant to the highest temperatures.