Welding poses obvious safety risks. It uses extreme heat to melt metal – the possibility of severe bodily damage is clear from a basic description of the activity. In other words, it’s a very dangerous job. However, as with any hazardous endeavor, though, those dangers can be avoided if you identify the risks and take proper precautions to avoid them.
Here are the five major safety hazards you’ll face with any welding project, and how to minimize the potential injury risk:
The danger of electric shock on a welding job is very real. Metal represents the main operating material for a welding process, meaning that there is a danger of conducting electricity. Making contact with an electrified material can put the welder at risk. Meanwhile, the arc welding circuity also poses a shock risk.
The danger from electricity can be minimized with proper safety gear. The right gloves can provide a barrier from shock. Meanwhile, you should remain vigilant at all times, avoiding contact electrodes. Dressing properly and remaining aware of your surroundings should neutralize any shock hazards you face from the welding process.
When you put welding equipment into action, the process kicks up a lot of dangerous fumes, including metal oxide compounds. Breathing these noxious gases can cause serious health consequences, both immediate, sudden injury and long-term chronic illness.
As such, you should take every precaution to protect your lungs. Avoid fumes as much as possible. Also, ensure that your work area has sufficient ventilation so that dangerous gases aren’t allowed to become too concentrated. The work area should also have an exhaust system meant to remove noxious gases from your immediate breathing space.
Obviously, welding requires extreme heat and controlled use of an open flame. The welding arc works at temperatures measured in the thousands of degrees Fahrenheit and kicks out sparks and debris. This presents a significant risk of fire and damage from burns.
Again, proper equipment can protect your skin from burns. You should also safeguard your surroundings to minimize the risk of a fire. Make sure your work area is clear of anything flammable. This includes obvious hazards like wood or gasoline, but also more innocuous-seeming items, like paint. At the very least, cover any flammable materials, so that an errant spark can’t reach them. Meanwhile, have a working fire extinguisher nearby, in case of an incident, and map out an escape route if a fire were to get out of hand.
Your eyes represent one of the most vulnerable parts of your body. Welding puts them in direct risk. The process produces an extreme amount of light, as well as involving significant sparking. Both these factors can contribute to eye damage, both in the near-term and over the long haul.
To avoid suffering eye injuries, make sure you wear the proper protection. Always wear a welding helmet. In addition, give the mask area and the rest of the protective gear an inspection before every use, to make sure it hasn’t become cracked or damaged.
It’s relatively easy to keep yourself safe. It may take some forethought and discipline, but you can be responsible for your elf. However, it’s hard to predict what other people will do. If someone unaware of proper safety precautions wanders into your work area, they could suffer a serious injury, or create a situation where an accident is more likely.
As such, you need to be aware of your surroundings. Keep untrained coworkers or bystanders out of your workspace, and make sure everyone around you has taken the proper precautions.
Almost any job, no matter how inherently dangerous, can be made safe with the proper precautions. Your employer should remain dedicated to protecting your well-being at all times. A top-flight staffing firm, like DHR, will help you find those employers, keeping you safe while also landing you the best-possible positions for your skill level.