Common Welding Hazards And Safety Precautions

Common Welding Hazards And Safety Precautions

Introduction

Welding process can be a dangerous activity. There are possibilities for getting cut, burned, Electrical Shock, and causing fires or explosions. Therefore, it is very important to follow specific instructions and recommendations for equipment and product provided by the manufacturer. It is also necessary to follow general welding safety rules. While doing any type of welding, you need to be aware of a number of specific safety concerns. This article is about different types of welding hazards and the safe practices and procedures to be followed during welding processes.

1- Electrical Shock

Arc welding power supplies operate at high voltages ranging from 60 volts to 80 volts (open circuit). Though this is a relatively safe voltage range, the risk of serious injury or death may exist if proper electrical safety practices are not being followed. Follow electrical safety practices like, do not work in wet or damp conditions, using rubber sole shoes, proper grounding and maintenance and of electrical equipment is required, and special precautions when two or more welders are working on the same structure. In the case of Electron Beam Welding, the risk of danger increases as it operates on high voltage than arc welding. Hence proper electrical safety should be practiced in the proper way while doing high-voltage welding tasks.

2-  Radiation

Welding arcs produce both ultraviolet and infrared radiations. These radiations can cause damage to human eyes if arc is viewed without the use of proper lenses. Proper safety measures should be practiced to protect exposed skin to avoid skin burns similar to sunburn effect. Electron Beam Welding also causes radiation. All radiations producing equipment should be use with proper screens to avoid any harm in the vicinity of the welding operation. Thoriated tungsten electrodes used for Gas Tungsten Arc Welding are radioactive, hence, proper ventilation and protection is required during grinding according to safety standards.

What is Welding

3- Burns

There is always a risk of getting burned when working around any welding operation. In addition to radiation burn, the burn can also be caused by touching hot metal or being hit by spatter or sparks. Welding helmets and fireproof protection for the body must always be worn while doing arc welding. During the welding operation being held, do not touch the welded part as it is hot. Avoid touching it without the use of proper gloves. The welder should also avoid pants with cuffs or frayed edges and open pockets they could easily catch molten spatter.

Do cover your exposed skin, hands, feet, head, and body with natural fibers like leather wool or cotton, avoid using manufactured fibers like nylon and polyester, because when these fibers ignite they melt and cause a serious burn. Always wear a welding cap and tie back your long hair and keep it tucked under your shirt or cap. Welding arcs produce ultraviolet and infrared light and can damage your eyes permanently, burn your skin, and potentially lead to skin cancer. To avoid such damage, wear a welding helmet with a filter lens. It protects your eyes and face, while long sleeve shirts and long pants protect your skin.

4- Smoke and Fumes

Welding processes produce hazardous fumes. The sources for these fumes are molten metal vaporization, oils, paint, coatings such as zinc, and fumes and gases from decomposing fluxes. To avoid any hazardous fumes proper ventilation must be used. The welder should keep in mind proper considerations of the welding space, type of welding process, amount of welding being conducted, and the location of the welder’s head relative to the flow of the fumes according to the safety standards.

According to the safety standards, both general and local ventilation techniques should be practiced. General ventilation is a method for ventilating the entire space such as opening doors to allow natural ventilation, while local ventilation is method to protect personnel at a workstation such as with a movable hood. Always keep your face out of the weld plume during welding. Welding space must have a proper ventilation fan, exhaust hood, or fume extractor. Wear an OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) approved N99 particle mask or a respirator. If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, it is necessary to have a respirator.

5- Welding in Confined Space

While working in confined spaces like tanks special safety protection should be practiced as these spaces produce extremely poor ventilation. So welders should take oxygen cylinders with them while working in confined spaces. He should follow all safety practices as guided in safety standards manuals.

Another explosion hazard is concrete. Because of the amount of water contained in concrete, it can become a steam bomb if welded upon. Never weld or cut on any closed container, tank, or cylinder. Even if it has been empty for years, it might have enough residual material to release toxic fumes or explode. Always bring tanks of any sort to a tank welding specialist for repair.

6 -Fire and Explosion Danger

Welding processes produce heat, sparks, and spatter which can cause fire ignition and could travel up to 35 ft. Therefore, combustible material or fuel should not be placed in the vicinity of 35 ft. Hence, combustible material on the other side of any wall adjacent to the workstation should be removed as well.

The area you’re doing welding work should be cleared of any type of combustible material such as lumber, rags, cigarette lighters, and matches. Absolutely do not weld or grind metal in a sawdust-filled shop. Sparks from welding and grinding can ignite airborne dust or fumes, or travel across the floor. You must have a fire extinguisher—place it next to a first aid kit so you know where both are. Please check your welding area one-half hour after welding to make sure no sparks have found a place to smolder.

7- Compressed Gasses

In arc welding pressurized gas cylinders are used, these must be handled properly to avoid any explosions or leaks. Even non-flammable gases such as carbon dioxide are stored in cylinders at such high pressure that they can easily become dangerous missiles. Keep the cylinder’s protective cap on if regulators are not installed, and keep cylinders chained or strapped at all times.

All the safety measures are detailed and listed in the safety standard manual ANSI Z49.1 and it also includes labeling, storage, gas withdrawal, valves, pressure relief devices, prevention of fuel gas fires, and concern for air displacement. The concern for air displacement is the use of gasses that are capable of displacing oxygen because they are either heavier than air (e.g., argon) or lighter than air (e.g., helium).

For example, when welding with argon, if proper ventilation is not ensured according to the standards, the argon will begin to pool at the floor and rise in depth much like filling a room with water. Eventually, asphyxiation is possible if the depth reaches the level of the welder’s head. The same danger exists while working with helium, but in this case, the pooling begins at the ceiling and grows downward. This can be a dangerous situation, especially when welding overhead.

8-Hazardous Materials

When dealing with hazardous materials, the use of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) becomes important. Most common hazardous materials include; fluorine, zinc, cleaning compounds, chlorinated hydrocarbons, and chromium and nickel in stainless steels. special ventilation techniques should be practiced when welding operation involves hazardous materials. OSHA and other organizations have established allowable limits for airborne contaminants referred to as threshold limit values (TLV) and permissible exposure limits (PEL).

Other hazards include noise from grinding, sawing, sanding, and plasma cutting; laceration from sharp metal edges; electrocution during arc welding; and asphyxiation from inert shielding gases. Carefully read all manufacturers’ instructions before starting any welding process and must follow safety standards.

Welding Safety Standards

There are international standards for comprehensive details and training guidance regarding safe practices in the welding process. One of these is “OSHA standard for welding, cutting, and brazing” which includes all the safety requirements and documents for the welding process.

There is another common standard in the United States is ANSI/ASC Z49.1, “Safety in Welding, Cutting, and Allied Processes”. This standard is listed in most AWS codes and is typically invoked when a welding code is mandated by the contract or law.

FAQs

What is the biggest hazard when welding?

The biggest hazard when welding is the risk of fire and explosions from sparks and hot metal, as well as exposure to harmful fumes and gases.

How important is safety precautions in welding?

Safety precautions are extremely important in welding as it involves the use of heat, electricity, and potentially hazardous materials.

How can we prevent hazards in welding?

To prevent hazards in welding, it is important to use proper personal protective equipment, keep the work area clean and well-ventilated, and properly maintain equipment. It is also important to properly train and supervise workers, and to follow safe work practices and procedures.

What precautions should someone take before they start welding?

Before starting to weld, someone should wear appropriate personal protective equipment such as a welding helmet, gloves, and apron, and ensure that the work area is clean and free of flammable materials. They should also properly set up and test equipment before use.

How do we prevent failure of accidents in welding?

To prevent failure of accidents in welding, it is important to follow safe work practices, properly maintain equipment, and properly train and supervise workers.

Does welding cause health problems?

Welding can cause health problems such as lung damage, metal fume fever, and cancer if proper precautions are not taken to protect workers from exposure to harmful fumes and gases.

How can you improve your welding skills?

Welding skills can be improved through training, practice, and experience.

Which is to wear for safety during welding?

The appropriate clothing for safety during welding is a cotton or flame-resistant coverall, safety glasses, welding helmet, gloves, and apron.

Conclusion

The welding process can be a dangerous activity.  It is very important to follow general safety. It is also necessary to practice general welding safety rules. This article is about different types of welding hazards and the safe practices and procedures to be followed during welding processes.

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