Welding is a dangerous job. After all, more than half a million welders in the workforce have work related injuries each year. These safety tips are a must know for all welders!
Know your craft and your tools
Whether you’re an amateur or a professional, it’s crucial that you have the proper knowledge before welding anything. Never forget your welding training and always read the manual for every machine you’re using to ensure so that you don’t miss out on any important features or safety warnings from the manufacturers.
Dress the part
Skin should never be exposed while welding and your attire should have no exposed or open holes where sparks could catch and start to smolder. This means your pants should remain uncuffed, all pockets and buttons should be buttoned or closed, and your hair and ears should be properly protected. Never tuck your pants into your boots as this provides space for sparks to get caught in.
All of the clothes you wear should be flame resistant or treated with a flame retardant compound. Wool, denim, and other tightly woven fabrics are excellent choices for welding as they are all flame resistant while synthetic fibers should never, ever be worn since they melt under high heat.
Even if you’re only going to be welding for a few minutes, you should always take extra to dress correctly to avoid any injuries.
Have the appropriate gear
Welder’s helmets, gloves, and leather shoes or boots are all necessary pieces of equipment that a welder needs. Your helmet should be your best piece of equipment and it is necessary to invest in one that works. When buying a helmet, make sure it has a filter shade that can protect both your face and your eyes when you’re welding and that it meets the current safety standards so that you can be confident that you’ll be protected from high-speed projectiles and UV radiation. The best helmets you can currently buy on the market are auto-darkening helmets which have filter shades that darken automatically once it senses the welding arc. Such helmets are convenient and safe for welders as they do not require you to adjust your helmet in between welding.
While gloves may feel like a hindrance to some welders, it is extremely important to keep your hands and fingers protected at all times. Innovative glove designs have cropped up designed specifically for welders that feature curved fingers, wing thumb designs, and flexible yet high grade materials for added dexterity. With hand and finger injuries accounting for more than a quarter of all work related injuries for welders, it isn’t hard to see why investing in a good pair of gloves is a good idea for all welders.
Lastly, it is very important to have the right pair of shoes or boots which should always be made of leather and cover at least eight inches above your ankle. If you ever find yourself dealing with transporting heavy materials while you’re working, it would also be a good idea to invest in a pair of shoes that feature steel-toes as well for bonus protection. Never wear shoes made out of cloth for welding unless you want to experience burning shoes!
Store and manage your equipment appropriately.
One of the most dangerous objects in your workspace are going to be your compressed gas cylinders. If something happens to them and the gas escapes, they can either spew out toxic gases causing death or become a dangerously quick-moving, heavy projectile that can injure and even kill several people. It is for these reasons that gas cylinders should always be stored upright and securely chained to a wall or cart at all times. When you are moving them, you should always securely cap your cylinder with a protective cap to prevent any damage from occurring.
To reduce your risk of tripping on many cables on the floor and for added efficiency, use boom-mounted wire feeders. Boom-mounted wire feeders reduce clutter and protect your cables while also offering added flexibility and giving welders a larger workspace thanks to the boom which can rotate in a full circle and move sixty degrees up and down. They are perfect for welders who are working on larger projects as well as those who need the extra mobility that boom-mounted wire feeders provide.
When dealing with heavy parts or jobs that need extreme precision, opt for fixturing. Fixturing increases safety since workers will no longer have to rely on chain and hoist methods to flip components while also decreasing the amount of time projects take due to their precision.
Eliminate all hazards from your workspace
Any clutter or water present in your working area present opportunities for fatal injuries. Take the extra time to tidy up your workspace before and after welding to ensure that there are no flammable objects lying around that might catch fire during the welding process. Any objects lying on the floor where they don’t belong can also cause you to stumble or fall over, potentially causing you to knock over stored gas cylinders and cause injuries.
Before turning on your welding machines, always ensure that they and the space around them are dry. Take care to not touch metal objects together just in case they might have a voltage running between them. And always power down your machines when you’re taking breaks or when you’ve finished using them.
Make sure your work room is properly ventilated
Welding produces a lot of fumes that are not only fatal if inhaled in large amounts, but can also cause long term health problems like lung cancer, heart disease, and others. Ensure that any room you work in is well ventilated and equipped with an exhaust hood that properly expels all of the toxic fumes from the room.
Never forget ergonomics
Among all of the dangers welding poses, the most forgotten are repetitive stress injuries and muscle strain. Welding is an arduous job, so it is crucial that you take breaks, stretch frequently, and avoid repetitive actions such as nodding your head to lower your welding mask. When lifting heavy objects, always practice safe lifting techniques by using your hips and knees, never lifting objects above your shoulders, and never twisting your body.
Don’t cut any corners
While it might seem tempting and more convenient to forego some of these safety tips, the truth is that all of the tips listed in this guide are meant to make welding considerably safer for all welders. Never forget your training and always practice safe welding, no matter how small or large your project may be.