The welding safety tips are universal and the welding safety habits and best types of equipment are applicable universally and to be practiced religiously.
The welding exposes everyone to similar hazards whether you are a small manufacturing workshop or multi-billion company. If we follow the data from the United States of America, there are an average of 37 deaths per one lakh steel industry workers and five lakhs welders injured per year.
This is horrifying data and carries more troubles for hobbyist welders as they may not follow the safety standard at home as compared to an industry where they are bound to follow the safety practices.
Welding Process Hazards and Their Controls
The potential hazards associated with welding include penetration, impact, smoke, harmful dust, heat, light radiation, and heat injuries. The welding smoke is a mixture of fumes of small particles and gases. Depending upon the types of material welded, the smoke of the welding can be extremely toxic. The sparks and strong heat of welding can cause burns of the skin.
Heated slag and metal chips may lead to eye injuries and damage. Welder’s flash results from UV light exposure to the eyes.
The danger of electric shock remains a major issue. The flammable materials in the vicinity of welding can cause fires and explosions. The shielding compressed gas cylinders may be dangerous sometime.
Occupational and health safety methods used to effectively control these hazards. They instil the concept in the manager’s mind to practice the safety norms in the workplace. The following hierarchy commonly leads to safe systems where the risk of illness and injury is reduced to a minimum. It is a pyramid of five levels for safety.
1. Elimination of Hazard – Elimination and physical removal is the far most effective way to control or eliminate the hazard.
2. Substitution and Replacement – Replace the articles with something less hazardous for example replace base metals with less toxic.
3. Controlling Engineering – It does not remove the hazards but isolates people from the hazards by ventilating the area locally at the root of the hazard.
4. Administrative Controls – This may change the procedure of people’s work. The procedural changes, training, and putting safety and warning signs.
5. Personal Protective Equipment – This is the last and effective control to minimize the exposure to a variety of welding hazards. The PPE alone is of hardly any use if all the measures are ignored.
Welding Flash Burn Eyes Treatment
Safety Precautions in Welding
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issues basic protection of fire prevention in welding, cutting, and brazing. It enumerates them as.
- Depute a responsible person to inspect the area and he should identify precautions necessary to be taken on a work permit sheet.
- The availability of fire extinguishers must be ensured at any point in time as welding safety measures.
- Keep a fire watch at least 30 minutes after the operation of welding and cutting, if a minor fire develops.
- Every combustible article must be pushed away at least 35 feet or protect them judiciously.
Prohibited Area for the Welding Process
- The unauthorized area by the management.
- Where sprinklers are impaired is prohibited.
- Explosive atmospheres are strictly prohibited.
- Area for storage of readily ignitable materials.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Eyes and face protection is taken care of by using helmets, hand shield, goggles, and safety glasses. Every filter lense and plates must fulfill the criteria for the transmission of radiant energy prescribed.
Helmets and hand shields shall be arranged to save neck, face, and ears from direct heat from the arc. The welding helmets with filter plates are considered to help save users from arc welding rays, sparks, and spatters that hit directly against the helmets and shields.
They are not intended to save from slag chips, fragments, wheel bristles, wire chips, and similar hazards under the helmet. These hazards can be taken care of by spectacles, goggles, and other protective gear.
Safety glasses with a shade 2 lens are endorsed for general-purpose protection for the viewers. Employers should come forward with identifying the hazards and provide the PPE required for their employees.
To reduce the potential for ignition, burning, electric shock, hot sparks trapping utilizes the articles of clothing. There are specific guidelines for these clothing, capes, leggings, sleeves, and earplugs for welding safety.
Ventilation in the Welding Process
Ventilation is the change of the room air necessary to save welders and others from breathing very high levels of the contaminant in the welding zone. Satisfactory ventilation depends upon the following points:
- Size, shape, and volume where the welding process is operational
- Type and number of operation generating the contamination
- Toxic/flammable contaminant’s concentrations generated
- The flow of natural air in the welding zone
- Placement of the user welder and other workers in a breathing area in relation to hazardous contaminants.
Types of Ventilation
- Natural Ventilation
- Mechanical Ventilation
1. Natural Ventilation – We can consider natural ventilation sufficient where necessary precautions are observed to maintain the welding zone safe from air impurities. Even the sample of the air shows the concentration of the air impurities below the permissible levels.
2. Mechanical Ventilation – If the welding operations do not fall in natural ventilation guidelines then mechanical ventilation is the need for welding safety. Mechanical ventilation fall into three key categories.
- Local exhaust
- Forced air local
- General mechanical airflow
12 Tips for Welding Safety
1. Read the Operating Manual: The operating manual provided by the manufacturer with its welding safety information is mandatory for the safety and to achieve the maximum potential of the machine.
Everyone involved needs to be familiar with the contents. It is always better to keep the soft copy of the operating manual book at an accessible place. The manual supplied by the manufacturer is the only guiding book and welding safety tip for each equipment and situation.
2. Wear Proper Gear: A proper fitting shirt, neither too long and no shorts are required. The proper gear including clothing, glove, and a helmet is the need even if a quick tack is required The wear should be flame resistant such as denim paint and shirt tightly woven with a jacket. The glove should be adequately fit and made from flame-resistant stuff is the need even if it is a small welding procedure. Gloves have undergone a big journey from a one-size-fits-all category to specially designed for the individual and an individual welding process.
The jacket is heavy, hot, restrictive, and cumbersome is not a reason to abandon it at the cost of your safety. Manufacturers of safety gear are now looking into the practical difficulties to overcome. Do not use gloves to hold the just welded material, instead hold it with pliers to avoid burns.
3. Button Up – UV light and Infrared rays have a damaging effect on the skin if we expose it to the welding process. It may catch the sparks slag in open pockets and pants while the welder is under the hood.. To avoid these calamities, button your shirt collar, cuff, and front pockets. Cover every exposed part of your skin. Never wear cuffed pants and shirts to avoid catching fire. Never keep matches and a butane lighter in your pockets.
4. The Right Shoes – The high top leather shoes or boots are the best protection for the feet of welders and a best welding safety tip. The pants should cover the shoes. Avoid using cloth or tennis shoes or you lead to burning off your feet with slag.
5. Don’t See the Welding Light – Arc ray’s exposure to unprotected eyes even momentarily can damage the eyes and lead to arc flash or flash keratitis. In favorable circumstances, this may not happen until hours of the exposure. The welding helmets need to fit with proper filters to save the skin and eyes of the welder when doing the process and watching it.
The safety glasses with side shields and ear protection are necessary with the helmet. A screen or carrier can be installed to protect the others from the hazards of the arc. The lens shade to be chosen as per the standard and needs.
6. Breathe Freely – Ensure the clean breathing air availability before the beginning of the welding process. Smoke, fumes, and gases emitted during welding may lead to a serious health hazard. Welding in a squeezed area can accumulate the toxic gases which need to be replaced with breathable air.
An exhaust hood may be the answer in welding zones to exchange toxic gases with fresh air. They need respirators for certain welding metals. It is advisable to consult the welding electrode manufacturers and engineers and penned down the safety norms before the welding begins.
7. Auto Darkening Helmets – The sensor available on auto-darkening helmets darken the lenses in a fraction of seconds. Every helmet in the auto-darkening category must meet the ANSI standard. The industrial helmet reacts at speed of 1/10000 to 1/20000 of a second and has adjustable shade setting #9 to #13 for the welding. The industrial helmet has an adjustable sensitivity and found to be pretty useful at low amperage. It controls and adjusts how long the lens stays dark once the arc ceases.
They design the newer range of the helmet in such a way to weld, cut, and grind by the same helmet. It is better to avoid helmets that darken in a time of 1/2000 to 1/3600 of a second, as they are not sufficient for industrial applications. Cold weather has bearing on auto-darkening helmets and cold weather slows the reaction time and may not darken quickly in damped weather.
8. Lose the Clutter – The welding zone should be clearly demarcated for each piece of the equipment. The welding station can have the necessary tools for the operator only. Nothing extra is advisable in the welding station. The Welding table should be of adjustable height with a scissor mechanism rather than a fixed height. table. A clean welding zone without any clutter will improve productivity and reduce the chances of any hazards.
9. Ergonomics to avoid repetitive stress injuries – An auto-darkening helmet reduces the neck fatigue and injuries as it is lighter and the operator needs not to snap his heat to drop the hood at the welding arena. This auto-darkening helmet saves a lot of time between the weld and improves the build time and production of a company.
This station embodies Vermeer’s lean welding principles. Each tool and piece of equipment has its own, clearly labeled place. The weld table uses a scissors mechanism that presents the work to the operator at the appropriate height, which reduces stress, a potential source of operator error.
It is better to encourage the operator to use an auto-darkening helmet in every situation. Place the table, equipment, welder at an ergonomically safe place in the welding station to avoid any stress injuries.
10. Boom Mounted wire feeder uses – Boom-mounted wire feeder adds efficiency, flexibility, and operator comfort at high production welding areas. They have control at the base of a 12-16 feet boom, which drives the assembly at the end. The boom can rotate at 360 degrees and moves 60 degrees upside down. A counterbalance holds the boom once the operator fixes the position.
Brookville Equipment Corp. equipped its new GoGeneration® locomotive line with boom-mounted wire feeders to minimize cable clutter, a potential tripping hazard. The 16-ft. boom and 15-ft. gun creates a huge work envelope, eliminating the need to lift and move heavy wire feeders.
They are ideal and create a safer workplace for the employees by limiting trip hazards resulting from cable clutter on the floor. It saves one from lifting the feeders, which are loaded with heavy welding wire. Now operators can weld in a variety of positions with maximum safety and maximum productions.
11. Stick and carrot approach – If you wish to implement successfully then do not make welding safety a program as employees may suspect and it may fail. Try to inculcate a safety culture, a habit, and reward compliance.
Make safety a personal goal by offering rewards. Suppose one of your employees wearing a rewarded jacket as strict compliance to safety then every other employee must be aware of why he was rewarded.
Now suppose an employee witnessed a violation of safety norms, both violators and spectators will be punished with the same quantum. Most of the companies choose a mix of carrot and stick policy to successfully implement a safety scheme.
Once welding safety assumes a culture and habit of your corporate, we can expect lower lost time and enhanced production.
12. Use fixturing whenever possible – The simple gearbox can rotate a heavy component of 2200-lb. It improves safety by removing the use of chain and hoist to eliminate the root of the potential hazards.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the fume plume?
A visible column of fume which emits directly from the point of welding and cutting is a fume plume. It is advisable to avoid breathing directly in this column. Try to place airflow to the face of the welder to ease him out of these toxic gases. Proper ventilation can direct this fume away from the welder’s breathing zone.
How do I sense the hazardous materials that exist in base metal and residual chemicals of base metal or consumables as wire or gases I am using?
Safety data sheet is the base of your observation. The supplier of the material and equipment provides this information about hazardous materials in their data sheet for your reference.
What are the storage need for oxygen, acetylene, and other gases?
Any oxygen cylinder should be stored twenty feet or more from fuel gas cylinders. A noncombustible barrier should separate it at a minimum of 5 feet high and one half-hour fire-resistance rating.
How to define MAPP gas?
It produces MAPP gas because of welding, brazing, cutting, and flame hardening operations. Once it is developed, it has a property of acetylene lacking its shock sensitivity so can easily store and ship in light containers. This gas results from the rearrangement of the molecule of acetylene and propane gases with a very distinct odor to detect the leakage easily.
There is a long list of risks associated with the welding process. Most of them result from ignoring the welding safety tips. Beware, stop, plan, and prepare before starting the welding to keep yourself and everyone around you safe.
The business which overlooks the necessary welding safety standards may find it difficult to stay safe. Always keep your management and workplace authorities to work in unison for the safer environment of the workplace.
Hobbyist welders should be equally cautious as any full-time welder. The risk is higher to them as they are not experienced and home does not have all the welding safety parameters.
Hope these few words may add a safety button to make and around safe while welding. Spare a moment to put your suggestion in the comment box.