Whether you are a welder, or you just work close to where welding occurs, be aware of welding hazards and how to protect yourself. Welding creates health and physical hazards. Health hazards from welding operations include exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation and the presence of dangerous or toxic fumes. Some of the physical hazards are burns, eye damage, electric shock, cuts, and crushed toes and fingers. These hazards can be controlled with safe work practices and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Before you begin welding, protect yourself with the necessary PPE. Wear a welding hood to protect your face and eyes. Make sure that the filter lens in the hood is right for the type of welding and the current. Burns are a big problem. Wear protective welding gloves. They’re heat resistant and long enough to protect your forearms from burns. You might need a leather apron or chaps to protect your legs. Make sure your pant legs cover the tops of your boots (even when you’re sitting down). Don’t roll up your sleeves or pants.
Keep gas cylinders in an upright position and secure them to prevent them from falling over. Never lift a gas cylinder by the valve protection cap. Remove regulators and replace protection caps when cylinders are not in use. Inspect cylinders; valves, couplings, regulators, and hoses regularly; thoroughly clean off all oil and grease. Keep cylinders away from heat sources. Never use oxygen to blow dust and debris off your clothes. Always close the valve when you’re not using a cylinder, even if It’s empty.
Take fire prevention seriously. Inspect the work area before you begin any welding work. Sparks can travel as far as 35 feet from the welding area. Look for flammable and combustible materials. Keep hoses and cylinders away from flames and heat so your work doesn’t go up in flames. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
Remember these welding safety tips:
1. Keep arc-welding leads away from high-traffic areas so they don’t create tripping hazards.
2. Prevent carbon monoxide problems: locate welding machines so that engine exhaust gets vented safely to the outside of the building.
3. Put up flash screens to prevent eye injuries to other workers In the area.
4. Never leave a welding rod unattended in a stinger.
5. Welders flip up their hoods after a weld so they can see to clean the weld, but that leaves their eyes exposed to flying pieces of slag or debris. Wear safety glasses or goggles under your hood.
6. Don’t look at a welding arc If you aren’t wearing the right kind of eye protection. Looking at the arc without proper eye protection can cause flash burns on your eyes.
We talked about welding, but most of the same hazards exist if you’re cutting or brazing. Always work safely.