The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a long list of very specific requirements when it comes to welding safety. Since the Department of Labor estimates there are about half a million people working as welders in a variety of industries, it is imperative that safety be taken seriously and kept at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Here is a breakdown of the top tips for welding safety.
Protective clothing and eyewear is necessary at all times. This protects a welder from UV radiation, hot metal debris, fire, “arc eye”, and other hazards. Because of the UV radiation caused by most welders, shields should be used to protect bystanders. This has the added benefit of keeping individuals out of a welder’s working area.
Welding creates sparks which can create fires. All flammable materials should be cleared away from a welder’s workspace and fireproof blankets covering immobile flammable areas. Dry chemical extinguishers or a bucket of sand should always be kept nearby in case of emergency.
There are many toxic chemicals used in the welding process including aluminum oxide, zinc, ozone, and chromium. To protect a welder from fatal exposure to these chemicals, exhaust fans and vapor masks should be used. Adequate ventilation is crucial to preventing the buildup of these chemicals which can cause further hazards such as explosions.
Although it may seem like common sense, it is worth mentioning that all equipment should be inspected before each use to ensure that everything is working properly and no hose or gauge is damaged. Also both gas and oxygen regulators should be handled with care and opened slowly and with full mental alertness to minimize risk of explosions.
Electric shock is a common accident for welder’s so remember to only weld in dry areas and away from metal ladders. Two welders in the mining industry recently lost their lives due to shocks after using an electric arc welder. Common sense and attentiveness to your equipment and surroundings significantly decrease the risk of electric shocks.
Do not use compressed gas or oxygen to clean your clothing or to clean your work area. While it may seem convenient and harmless, as one welder eloquently said it, “turns you into a Roman candle.”
Ray Subs is a public relations expert who is working with Baker’s Safety. More information about Baker’s Safety can be found at
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