Welding safety precautions: When carrying out welding work we are subjecting ourselves to different risks, which derive from this type of task. The materials used and the effect of the welding machine produce sparks, fumes, gas and dust that can harm us in different ways. You have to take into account the Welding safety precautions in the face of radiation, electrocution, fire and explosion and fumes inhalation. In this article, we give you the keys to making this job safe.
As in any job, an expert welder must follow specific Welding safety precautions. Likewise, the people who organize, must inform and provide the worker with all the necessary Welding safety precautions. Avoid welding in a place where there is combustible material or near combustible dust or explosive gases. If, when welding, the material generates flammable materials, this action must be avoided in any case.
Arc welding, like any industrial occupation, presents many hazards. However, welding is a safe procedure, provided a correct risk assessment is carried out and followed. These are the important ones that will help you finish your work in safe conditions. Don’t forget. It is always more profitable and satisfying to be in good health.
What are the hazards and welding safety precautions
Welding Hazards: The risks we run in welding are:
- Electrocution by electrical contact.
- Inhalation of toxic fumes, dust and smoke.
- Fire and Explosions.
- Risks derived from radiation,
- Heat exposure.
Shock is one of the most serious and immediate hazards facing a welder. Electrical shock can cause serious injury or death, either from the shock itself or a fall from height caused by an electrical shock. Electrical shock occurs when welders touch two metal objects that have a voltage between them, thereby inserting themselves into the electrical circuit.
The higher the voltage, the greater the current, and therefore the greater the risk of electric shock causing injury or death. The most common type of electrical discharge is primary voltage discharge of 230 or 460 volts and secondary voltage discharge from an arc welding circuit, which ranges from 20 to 100 volts.
Keep in mind that even a discharge of 50 volts or less can be enough to injure or kill a welder, depending on conditions. Due to its constant change of polarity, alternating current (AC) voltage is more likely to stop the heart than direct current (DC) welders.
To avoid secondary voltage discharge, the welder should wear
- Make sure welding cables are dry and free of oil or grease.
dry gloves in good condition, never touch the electrode or the metal parts of the electrode holder with wet skin or clothing, and make sure to isolate themselves from the ground. The welder should also inspect the electrode holder for damage before starting to weld and keep the welding cable and electrode holder insulation in good condition. And remember, electrodes are always kept woven.
An electric shock can kill. To prevent electrical shock by using Welding safety precautions:
- Use cables and clamps with good insulation.
- Keep welding cables away from electrical cables.
- Wear dry leather gloves.
- Clothes must also be dry.
- Never change electrodes with bare hands or with wet gloves.
What types of hazard is welding fumes
It’s no wonder that overexposure to welding fumes and gases can be dangerous to health. Welding fume contains potentially harmful complex metal oxide compounds from consumables and base metal coatings. So, it is essential to keep your head away from the fumes and use sufficient ventilation and/or exhaust to prevent exposure.
Safety standards in welding against fumes, gas, dust and smoke inhalation
One option is a welding shield equipped with a face mask. They offer a proper clean breathing air ventilation system to protect the welder from daily exposure to hazardous toxic fumes and gases that are considered carcinogens and cancer-causing chemicals. A complete respiratory system consists of a filter unit, a hose set and a head.
Welder’s respiratory systems are officially classified by the levels of protection. It offers the wearer, i.e. the level at which they exclude contaminated air found in the welding environment. It is the measured total combined leak rating of the respiratory system and is called the Total Inward Leakage Measurement.
Fire and explosion
Know where fire alarms and fire extinguishers are located, and check the gauge on the fire extinguisher to make sure it is full. If a fire extinguisher is not available, make sure you have access to fire hoses, sand buckets, or other fire-fighting equipment. And know the location of the nearest fire escape. Assign a fire watch to keep closely monitoring fire hazards.
If you weld within flammable materials, have a fire watch nearby to control sparks and remain in the work area for at least 30 minutes after welding is complete to ensure there is no chance of smouldering. Place a fire-resistant blanket, on top of any flammable material within the work area if you cannot remove it.
In an elevated place, make sure there are no flammable materials under you and watch out for other workers below you to avoid sparks or splashes falling on them. Even high concentrations of fine dust particles can cause flash explosions or fires. If a fire starts, don’t panic and call the fire department right away.
Ultraviolet radiation in welding activity
Among the Welding safety precautions, those relating to the prevention of the risks involved in working with radiation must be taken into account. The fact of being exposed to the sparks that are going to be generated in front of us means that we have to take some measures in this regard. There are two types of radiation in welding: ultraviolet and infrared.
An arc is the most familiar of welding, but behind the beauty of light and sparks lies the danger. Looking at the bow with unprotected eyes can permanently damage eyesight and even a short exposure can cause the surface of the eye to burn, causing the so-called “Arc eye”. Ultraviolet and infrared radiation and visible lights, such as hot splashes, can damage the eyes and burn unprotected skin.
Safety standards in welding against radiation
If we are going to be exposed to welding radiation, we have to protect ourselves properly. The first thing to think about if we take this type of radiation into account is the injuries that will affect the skin and eyes. For example:
- Inflammations of the cornea and other tissues of the eye
- Retinal damage.
- It can cause blindness in extreme cases,
A welder should always use protection against the electric arc, in addition to protecting it from the projection of incandescent particles and sparks. There are models with photosensitive screens, which darken according to the requirements of the type of work being done. The lenses that equip these masks filter ultraviolet and infrared rays.
OSHA welding PPE requirements
A welder should wear flame-retardant coveralls or clothing made from cotton that has been chemically treated to make it flame-retardant. In addition, cuffs and leggings are necessary. The use of this set of accessories offers efficient protection against sparks, punctures, abrasions and cuts.
Due to their durability and flame resistance or flame retardant clothing and leather apron are recommended in Welding safety precautions. This is because synthetic materials like polyester or rayon will melt when exposed to extreme heat. Welding leather aprons are especially recommended when welding out of position, such as in applications that require vertical or overhead welding.
Avoid rolling up your sleeves or pants, as sparks or hot metal will settle in the folds and can burn. Even when wearing a hard hat, always wear safety glasses with side shields or goggles to prevent sparks or other debris from striking your eyes.
A welder should wear safety footwear. Leather boots with 6 to 8 inches of ankle coverage are the best foot protection. Metal guards over shoelaces can protect feet from falling objects and sparks. It won’t be pleasant if a piece of hot splash gets into shoes.
They are made of thick leather and are mostly used in various heavy activities. They protect against intense abrasion, cuts, friction and scrapes. They are suitable for handling tools and mechanical work. It is recommended to use it in dry environments.
Flame-resistant gloves/leather welding gloves should always be worn to protect against burns, cuts and scrapes. As long as they are dry, they should also provide some protection against electrical shock. Leather is a good choice for gloves.
Helmets with side shields are essential to protect eyes and skin from exposure to arc rays. Hard hats also protect against sparks, heat, and electrical shock.
The welder’s eyes require efficient and approved protection in the form of an approved welding hood and welding lens filter (auto-darkening filter). A protective welding hood has 100% protection against ultraviolet radiation.
Make sure you choose the right shade lens for your process. Start with a darker filter lens and gradually switch to a lighter shade until you have good visibility in the weld joint, but it is comfortable and does not irritate your eyes. Inadequate eye protection can cause extreme discomfort, swelling, or temporary blindness. So don’t take the chance; wear eye protection equipment at all times during welding.
To protect your ears from noise, wear hearing protection if you work in an area with high noise levels. Doing so will protect your hearing from damage and will also prevent metal and other debris from entering the ear canal. Choose earplugs or earmuffs to protect your ears.
Welders should use plugs made of foam, rubber, or silicone. They are characterized by being soft and most can be moulded by the user to adapt them better when inserted into the ear canal. There are disposable and reusable ones. Its proper use allows noise to be reduced by up to 32 dB (decibels).
Safety precautions for welders
The welder uses machinery and tools that need specific protection elements to avoid welding risks to which he may be exposed during his work. But, if Welding safety precautions are ignored, welders face a variety of hazards that can be potentially dangerous, including electric shock, fumes and gases, fires and explosions, and more.
To help keep welders safe, organizations like the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offer Welding safety precautions to help control, minimize, or help employers and workers avoid welding hazards.
Employers must ensure that all workers have the opportunity to adhere to the following important guidelines in the workplace:
- Read and understand the manufacturer’s instructions for the equipment.
- Carefully review material safety data sheets.
- Follow internal company safety practices
Knowing the most common welding hazards and knowing how to avoid them ensures a safe and productive work environment for everyone. Welders must also be aware of Welding safety precautions within the work environment. For example, those who work in a confined space or elevated area should take extra precautions.
In any welding situation, welders must pay close attention to the safety information on the products being used and the material safety data sheets provided by the manufacturer and work with their employer and co-workers to follow the appropriate Welding safety precautions for their workplace.
Good common sense is also key. If you open electrode cans, keep your hands away from sharp edges. Remove clutter and debris from the welding area to prevent trips or falls. To stay current with the latest safety practices. By following Welding safety precautions and using common sense, welders and helpers can stay safe and keep production without lost-time accidents.
What are the top 10 safety rules when welding?
Before beginning any arc welding operation:
- Remove all flammable and combustible materials/liquid from the welding area. The work area must be clean and orderly in this way we will avoid fires due to sparks and accidents due to objects that can cause us to trip.
- Gas test before and during welding.
- Shop the welding area with a fire blanket. Keep a pressurized water hose if necessary.
- Follow the safe system of work such as JSA, Permit to work system.
- Make sure the welding checklist is filled out by the welder and verified by the foreman or supervisor
- Always keep a fire extinguisher for immediate use. A good practice is to have a fire extinguisher and/or a bucket of water nearby in case a small fire breaks out, remember that when you are wearing the welding mask you cannot see your surroundings, and it is very easy for something to catch fire. Assign Trained fire watch.
- Equip welding machines with switches that can be quickly disconnected.
- The power to the machine must be disconnected before making repairs.
- Proper grounding on welding machines is important. Proper Ventilation. Proper PPE, Proper cable management to avoid trip hazards, Barricade and signage
- Electrode holders should not be used if they have loose leads, damaged jaws, or damaged insulators.
OSHA welding ventilation requirements
Welding areas require adequate ventilation and local exhaust to keep fumes and gases away from the breathing zone and general area. In most situations, employers will provide a ventilation system, such as an exhaust system or fixed or removable exhaust hoods, to remove fumes and gases from the work area.
Make sure there is adequate ventilation when welding in confined areas or where there are windbreaks. The area needs to be equipped with mechanical exhaust fans exhausting at least 2000 CFM of air for each welder, except where local exhaust hoods or airlines to breathe are used.
Safety precautions when using a welding machine
An electric portable welding machine is widely used in industry, both in fixed workstations and in welding operations on construction sites. Like any other industrial activity, electric welding presents certain risks that can be perfectly avoided, if some simple Welding safety precautions are implemented:
You must check the connections of the cables to the machine, positive (clamp) and negative (ground). They must be well-adjusted in their sockets. The power outlet for the welding machine is in good condition (do not have bare cables, very dangerous).
- The correct connection of the equipment is to be used.
- Verification of the conductor cables.
- The handling and care of the equipment.
- Correct performance of operations.
In the equipment, a primary circuit and a secondary circuit must be distinguished. The connections of the equipment to the mains (primary circuit) must be carried out by an electrical specialist. In electric arc welding, the working voltage is only approximately 15 to 40 volts, however, the voltage when the equipment works empty can be much higher.
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For this reason cables in poor condition create a great risk, even in secondary circuits. Due to the aforementioned reason, the welder should check the insulation of the cables before beginning the task and eliminate those that are damaged or in poor condition. Only cables and splices in perfect condition should be used.
During the operation, the ground cable must be correctly connected. In some cases, the grounding conductors of power tools used near welding equipment become so hot (due to welding-induced currents) that they melt unnoticed. For this reason, it is necessary:
- Directly connect the ground cable to the piece to be welded.
- Use power tools that are double-insulated.
- Place an intermediate insulator when the piece to be welded is hanging.
The current must also be cut off before carrying out any manipulation on the machine, including moving it. The machine must not be left connected when work is suspended or a break is taken. In addition, cables should not be allowed to rest on hot surfaces, sharp edges, etc., or anywhere else that will damage their insulation.
It must be avoided that the cables are stepped on by vehicles, or that welding sparks fall on them. Cables must not cross a traffic lane without being protected by crossing supports.
Is argon welding safe?
Argon is known as one of the “noble” gases since it does not react with other materials It is not flammable, does not support combustion, displaces oxygen and It’s not life support.
The gas is heavier than air. Argon is a gas that is used in welding processes known as argon welding. The argon gas helps keep the weld-free from fusion defects, porosity, weak welds, oxidation and other defects due to variable arc lengths.
Argon is a simple asphyxiant. Effects of oxygen deficiency resulting from simple Asphyxiants can include rapid breathing, decreased mental alertness, impaired muscular coordination, poor judgment, depression of all sensations, instability and fatigue.
As suffocation progresses, nausea, and vomiting, can result in prostration and loss of consciousness, ultimately leading to convulsions, coma and death.
At low oxygen concentrations, unconsciousness and death can occur in seconds and without warning. Argon is odourless,
colourless, tasteless and non-irritating, which means it has no warning properties.
Humans do not possess senses that can detect Argon’s presence. Contact with rapidly expanding argon near the point of release can cause frostbite, with redness, skin colour change to grey or white, and blisters.
First aid Measures
If frostbite is suspected, flush your eyes with cool water for 15 minutes and get immediate medical attention. By freezing, soak the skin in warm water. DO NOT USE HOT WATER. contact the doctor’s attention. Ingestion is unlikely as argon is a gas at room temperature.
In cases of inhalation and overexposure, immediate medical attention is required. Rescue Personnel must be equipped with self-contained breathing apparatus.
- Proper personal protective equipment is important.
- An electrical shock can be fatal.
- If ventilation is not adequate, then the welding area needs to be equipped with mechanical exhaust fans.
- Always keep a fire extinguisher for immediate use.
Finally, if you work alone, I recommend that you carry a mobile phone with you, just in case. This practice will give you a lot of safety.