Welding is a widespread metal fabrication method covering a wide range of different processes such as MIG, TIG, Stick, and Oxi-fuel welding.
The following factors are often taken into account when choosing the right process:
- Type and size of metal parts
- Production volume
- Weld specifications
- Budget (resources)
- Production type
- Skills and experience of the operator
Challenges related to welding are numerous and mostly universal in nature.
One of the key challenges is to provide an adequate level of safety at the workplace. All of the above mentioned factors in some way affect the manner in which this important aspect of industrial production is managed and controlled.
Additionally, welders are faced with a number of specific hazards associated with the welding process.
Common safety risks associated with welding
Here are few common safety hazards related to the welding process.
- Excessive heat
Excessive heat is a serious problem that appears as a result of two factors. Firstly, we have to consider the amount of heat generated by arc welding itself. Secondly, welders are often faced with natural heat and high temperatures within the work area. Heat stress is a condition that often comes as a consequence of elevated temperatures in the workplace.
- Visible light, IR, and UV radiation
Ultraviolet and Infrared radiation is extremely harmful to the human body (skin and eyes especially). Even minimal exposure to UV radiation causes an eye injury often referred to as ‘arc flash’. The symptoms range from mild eye irritation to photophobia with membrane damage being a common side-effect. Long-term exposure to UV radiation can also lead to serious medical conditions such as skin cancer.
- Fumes, gases, and other airborne pollutants
Inhalation of fumes and gases released during welding can lead to a series of short- and long-term health issues affecting your heart, nerve system, respiratory, and digestive organs. Welding fumes and gases are created from chemical and metallic compounds found within the base metal, surface coatings, shielding gases, and other contaminants present within the work area. Welding spatter and sparks are an additional concern in this regard.
- Excessive noise
Elevated noise levels during longer periods of time can negatively affect your hearing and lead to a high blood pressure. Psychological side-effects are also to be considered.
Incidences such as electric shocks, fire, and explosions are extremely rare. However, they also have to be taken into consideration during project planning.
All dangers associated with welding can be diminished and sanctioned using the right PPE equipment. In many cases it is strictly regulated by law, but it is also often the case that legal provisions are ignored and not taken as seriously as they should.
5 indispensable PPE items for maximum protection during welding
Here are 5 Personal Protection Equipment items to consider first when starting your next welding project.
1. Welding helmet – Protection against light radiation and airborne particles
Depending on the type and intensity of the welding process, you can use different types of head protection including googles and handheld masks but you can never go wrong with a good welding helmet.
Welding helmets will normally provide a decent protection against both light radiation and flying particles. However, not all helmets are equally effective in blocking different types of contaminants.
Some of the models are naturally designed better and will bring more benefits to the user.
We have recently added an innovative Optrel helmet line to our range of products.
This includes Panoramaxx – a revolutionary welding helmet with an extended field of vision (up to 6 times larger compared to standard models).
The helmet is enhanced with a True Color View technology and an advanced ADF system (5-12) to provide perfect protection against harmful UV/IR radiation.
2. Respirators & fresh-air units to stop harmful fumes and gases
Welding in confined indoor areas without functional ventilation is a common scenario.
Without adequate protection, accumulation of harmful gases within the work area can seriously damage your health. As mentioned earlier, there are a number of short- and long-term health issues associated with inh
alation of dreadful fumes & gases.
Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem: air purifying systems.
We offer a number of useful fresh-air solutions compatible with a variety of welding helmets and grinding visors.
R60 AIRMAX is a practical PAPR (Powered Air Purifying Respirator) system compatible with a wide range of Jackson welding helmets.
This battery-powered blower unit will bring fresh air to your breathing area and prevent contact with dangerous vapors, fumes, gases, dust, and other contaminants.
R60 AIRMAX can also be used during pre-welding activities such as grinding and cutting.
For example, the system can be integrated with F50 – an affective grinding visor from Jackson Safety. The combination brings numerous benefits to the user – fresh air flow, clear viewing area, and successful protection against all flying particles.
3. Welding gloves to provide protection against heat, burns, and radiation
Your hands and arms are positioned closest to the welding arc which makes them the most vulnerable part of your body during welding.
They are in the front line when it comes to emissions of heat and radiation and they are the first to suffer from electric shock and burns.
Therefore, you should never take unnecessary risks when choosing the right protection for your upper extremities.
In addition to material quality and desirable heat-resistant characteristics, you should also pay attention to finger mobility and grip ability.
We’ve experienced that our TIG gloves will not only protect your hands from excessive heat (and related issues) but will also provide excellent control over the welding torch. The gloves are made from quality & natural goat skin with Kevlar thread.
4. Fire-resistant clothes to protect the rest of your body
As with face and hands, the rest of your body should also be protected from excessive heat and radiation. The best way to do this is to fully cover the body with protective, fire-resistant clothing.
The clothing should include long sleeves and a collar that sufficiently protects the neck from exposure to light and airborne contaminants.
It is also important to pay attention to the way in which the clothing is made – it always has to be a tightly woven (non-synthetic) material that will successfully block spatter and other particles from reaching different parts of your body.
5. Quality leather boots to complete the head-to-toe protection
Shoes that are worn during welding have the same function as other parts of the protective equipment.
They need to protect your feet from heat, UV/IR radiation, and falling particles. Ideally, proper welding shoes are made of hard leather and should also cover your ankles for maximized protection.
It is important to wear comfortable footwear that will not interfere with your movement and thus increase the risk of injury at work.
The importance of Personal Protective Equipment during welding cannot be emphasized enough.
Choosing the right equipment is the only way to protect all parts of your body from damaging consequences of welding such as excessive heat, UV/IR radiation, and flying particles.
We are aware that the choice of equipment is not easy due to the large number of available models on the market.
However, we have made a lot of effort in finding the right solutions and we are confident that we can help you with your choice.
Contact us anytime for tips and advice – without any obligation.
We are always ready to help!
Tlf: +45 4346 2010
Email: [email protected]