Welding safety is critical to a protected workplace and employees. When welding students first begin learning about this profession, safety is the first item they are taught, and it’s interwoven into everything that they do. It doesn’t matter if welding is being performed as a large-scale operation or in a small area—safety rules must be strictly enforced to decrease the hazard of severe burns on the skin or eyes.
If you would like to remind employees or co-workers about proper welding methods, here are some basics that should be the foundation of everyday safety:
- Choose the right protective clothing and wear it properly. Use fire-resistant clothing, heavy flame-resistant welding gloves, leather aprons, auto-darkening helmet to protect the face and eyes, welding jacket, and safety glasses. Never wear synthetic clothing, do not cuff your pants or sleeves, and do not tuck pants in your boots.
- Wear protective shoes. Your choice of shoes is just as important as what you are wearing on your body. You must wear leather boots or shoes—no tennis shoes or shoes made from any other kind of cloth. Place your pants legs over your shoes to prevent burns to the inside of your boots or shoes.
- Go back to your welding machine instruction manual. Any safety questions that you have will likely be answered in the manufacturer’s instruction booklet. Each piece of equipment will be labeled and explained, and the recommendations should be considered the final authority for your safety. Of course, if you have any questions about something contained in the manual, you should call the manufacturer.
- Practice proper ventilation procedures. Ventilation is very important. The fumes that are produced by welding contain compounds that can cause or are suspected to cause asthma, tremors and lung cancer. Keep clear of the fume plume and use your exhaust hood to be sure that you have enough breathable air.
- Shield your eyes. All welders must avoid arc flash, which can cause a serious injury. Being exposed to the infrared and ultraviolet radiation given off by a welding arc can severely damage your eyes. Properly shielding your eyes means wearing safety glasses with a welding helmet with the right filter lens. You should also use an auto-darkening helmet. These safety helmets can instantly darken to the necessary protective level and help to lessen the fatigue to the neck and head that was caused by snapping one’s head back to release the hood.
While all of these components are critical to a welder’s safety, they must be connected into an overall safety program if they are to meet an employer’s safety goals. Proper training and supervision is important, as is making sure that every employee’s work routine and behavior contributes to the goal of no accidents and 100 percent safety compliance.