Welding is one of the most important metal fabrication techniques as it is what makes it possible for metalworkers to join metal parts together. Like other metal fabrication methods that involve working with heat and bright light, welding is inherently dangerous. This is why it is best to hire a professional welder to ensure the job is performed efficiently and safely.
So what hazards are associated with welding, and how do professional welders mitigate them? Read along to become acquainted with some of the common types of welding safety hazards and how they are minimised or avoided.
Exposure to Toxic Fumes and Gases
The welding process can produce toxic fumes and gases, such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, ozone, and chromium and nickel oxides, which can cause respiratory illnesses and even cancer. The severity of the illnesses may vary depending on the type of gas or fume inhaled, as well as the concentration and length of your exposure.
Exposure to harmful welding fumes and gases can be avoided by practicing a variety of safety precautions. These include instructing welders to wear industry-approved respiratory safety equipment, and performing pre-start assessments to ensure that there is adequate ventilation in the workplace and that exposure levels are within the acceptable exposure limits.
Heat, Fire and Burns
As already pointed out, welding involves using a heat source to join metals together. The heat produces sparks that pose the risk of fire as well as burns. Burns may also occur as a result of exposure to the molten metal.
To minimise exposure to these potentially harmful physical hazards, welders should be instructed to wear the proper PPE, such as safety goggles, flame-resistant gloves, and fire-resistant clothing at all times while in the workplace. They will also need to avoid contact with the molten metal to prevent burns.
Electrocution is the most serious safety hazard associated with welding jobs. The live electrical circuits used to create the heat required to melt metal can cause an electric shock if the proper steps aren't taken to avoid direct contact between the skin and part of the welding or electrical circuit.
To reduce and potentially eliminate the risk of an electric shock, welding workers should ensure they wear the proper PPE, such as rubber-soled, steel toe-capped safety shoes and insulated safety gloves. They should also avoid using electric welding equipment in areas where they are required to work in awkward positions, such as kneeling, crouching or lying on the ground.
The above-highlighted safety hazards are just but a few of the many hazards associated with welding jobs. Other welding safety hazards include exposure to UV radiation, exposure to prolonged noise and injuries from the use of inadequate PPE. The best way to ensure your welding job is done correctly is to hire a safety-trained welder. Don't put your safety and that of others at risk by attempting a DIY welding project.