Welding, while a safe profession when the correct precautions are taken, involves many risks and hazards. Welders can work with high temperatures, gases and fumes, electrical voltage, sparks, and ultraviolet rays. In order to protect themselves against explosions, burns, fumes, eye damage, and more, welders must ensure that they are following safety best practices. If you’re thinking about becoming a welding operator, make sure that you’re aware of these safety tips in order to ensure that you’re always staying safe on the job.
Those with a Welding Career Should Stick to a Routine–Before, During, and After a Welding Job
Before beginning any welding job, it’s important to cover all your bases to ensure that the area you’re working in is as safe as possible. Welding operators should always review their operating manual, which contains all the safety information and regulations provided by the manufacturer.
Make a list or mental note of things to check for before, during, and after your welding project. If you’re in a welding career, check for any hazards before beginning your project, such as flammable materials nearby. Make sure to check the equipment you’re working with. Is it functioning properly? Could you injure yourself accidentally on nearby equipment? Do you know where everything is for easy access? During your project, stay mindful of surfaces or surrounding materials that could be hot and should be avoided. After you’ve finished the job, make sure to clean up your workspace. Return all equipment, and ensure that there’s no possibility of a fire occurring.
Wear the Right PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)
Welders should never begin a project without wearing the right PPE (personal protective equipment). Your PPE will keep you injury-free and protect you from burns, vibrations, and exposure to ultraviolet rays. Your PPE should consist of cotton clothing treated with flame-resistant properties. Wear leather boots that cover your ankles, and never roll up your sleeves or cuffs or unbutton your shirt, which can allow skin to become exposed to sparks or enable sparks to catch in cuffs or pockets, where they can burn. When welding, always wear safety glasses with side shields to protect your eyes from debris and sparks, and always wear protective gloves. Wear a helmet equipped with the proper shade lens for your project to prevent exposure to arc rays, which can cause painful injury to eyes and skin.
Ensure You’re Using Proper Ventilation
If you’ve attended welding school, you’ll understand the dangers of overexposure to welding fumes. In order to avoid this, make sure that your workspace is equipped with proper ventilation systems to remove fumes and gases from the breathing zone. Adequate ventilation will depend on the type of base metal and rod you’re using during your welding project, as these contain different levels of metal oxide compounds. It’s likely that your employer will provide a ventilation system, but make sure to wear a respirator unless you’re sure that exposure levels are below safety limits.
Take Precautions to Prevent Fires
Welding arcs can pose a lot of danger due to the intense heat and sparks they create. Make sure you remove all flammable materials from your work environment or cover them with a fire resistant material before beginning. Check to make sure you know where the fire extinguishers and alarms are located, check that they are functioning, and identify the fire exit nearest to you. If welding near flammable materials, have someone keep an eye on the sparks. Always stay in a work area for at least 30 minutes after finishing a project to ensure that the sparks created will not start a fire.
Stay Dry to Prevent Electric Shock
Welders should take great precautions to ensure that electric shock doesn’t occur, as shock can result in injury or death in serious cases. Electric shock can occur by contact with an electric circuit, which commonly occurs when two metal objects that have voltage between them are touched, or when secondary shock is experienced from a welding circuit. Always inspect electrode holders for damage before starting a project, checking that they are properly insulated, which ensures that the welder will not touch the hot parts within the electrode holder. Be sure to wear gloves and PPE that is completely dry when handling electrodes or electrode holders.
Are you interested in attending welding college?
Check out the North American Trade School’s program options for future welders.