Welding safety is more than just looking the part with a hard hat and a helmet. Understanding welding tools is a key component to welding safety, as well as how to protect yourself while utilizing them. Welding is a very safe career, and with proper training and implementation of safety procedures, you’ll never have to worry about accidents.
Missouri Welding Institute prioritizes welding safety in all that we do. From day one in our welding program, you are issued the proper gear and taught how to use it. You won’t be allowed to go near any welding equipment if you forget any component of your welding gear. After all, you are working with extremely hot temperatures that can cause severe burns or worse. Below, we’ll go over some common welding safety hazards and how you can prevent them. Contact us today for your free information packet!
Safety Gear Inadequate and/or Missing
Fires and Explosions
Fumes and Gases
Electrical shock is a serious hazard that could harm welders and even cause death. Electric shock happens when two metal objects which have a voltage between them touch, which allows an electric current to flow between them. Since welders work with metal all day every day, this welding hazard is one you will have to be vigilant against. This can happen with bare wires as well as arc welding circuits amongst others. Electric shocks don’t have to be all that high to cause injury.
Prevention involved wearing dry gloves that are in good condition, never touching the electrode or metal parts of the electrode holder with skin or wet clothing, and insulating yourself from the work and ground. Furthermore, always make sure your welding equipment is in good condition and not damaged that could produce an electrical shock. Damaged insulation needs to be repaired or replaced immediately. Stick electrodes are always electrically hot.
Electric shock can occur when a welder touches hot parts inside the welder case or the electric distribution system where the welder is connected. If welding equipment in turned on, even while idle, it still has a voltage and power running through it. Missouri Welding Institute teaches to always treat all welding equipment as if it were hot and dangerous at all times.
Fumes and Gases
Welders are working with tools that produce fumes and gases. The key here is ventilation. You want the gases to be able to escape to the atmosphere easily. Working in a shop with huge doors always open works. If you work in a building, often huge ventilation machines and/or exhausts will be near your work station to whisk away fumes. As you melt metal, dangerous and noxious fumes and gases are produced.
There are appropriate threshold limit values (TLV) that OSHA (Occupational Safety Hazard Association), or the organization that ensures safe and healthy working environments and conditions for workers, has set for welders to be exposed to on a daily basis as they work. It is often recommended that welding operators wear respirators unless your environment is under the TLV values. This is especially true for those who do work in closed buildings. Air quality is often checked periodically by employers to ensure the exposure levels are adequate.
Missouri Welding Institute cannot emphasize enough the importance of a safe work environment. If at any time you are working and you feel uncomfortable breathing, you need to report this to a supervisor as soon as possible. Check your ventilator to ensure it is functioning properly.
Fires and Explosions
Since welders work with extreme heat, the risk of fire is always present. A welding arc can reach temperatures of over 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the danger is from the sparks and the spatter created by the arc rather than the arc itself. Spatter can reach 35 feet away from where you are working, oftentimes hitting when you don’t realize it. For this reason, it is vital that you have a clean work space, free from flammable materials, such as gasoline, oil, piants, wood, cardboard, paper, cloth items, propane, and hydrogen.
Missouri Welding Institute incorporates fire safety training into our program. Knowing where the fire extinguishers are in your building, how to use one, and the proper protocol in case of a fire is taught and reviewed periodically, so that if a fire does happen, you will be prepared. Having access to buckets of water, fire hoses, or sand to douse the fire can be helpful. Also, know where the nearest fire exit is in your work area.
In some workplaces, you are welding above other people and/or equipment. Again, make sure all flammable materials below you are removed, and you’ll have to be constantly aware of what or who is below you.
If you have to weld within flammable or combustible materials, you will need another person to monitor your sparks and spatter and to stay in the work area once you are finished for at least 30 minutes to ensure all sparks are harmless.
Safety Gear Inadequate and/or Missing
Many burns and other small injuries occur when your personal protective equipment (PPE) fails or is not worn. PPE for welders is designed to be fire-resistant and still allow you to move enough to execute your welds easily. Leather is also a good choice for PPE. It is not recommended to wear synthetic clothing or materials since this will melt when exposed to extreme heat. Welding leathers are extremely popular due to their durability, fire resistance, and great ability to maneuver in while working out of position, such as overheld welds.
Gloves are incredibly important. You want heavy, flame-resistant gloves to work in, which will protect your hands from burns, cuts, and scrapes. They also help to prevent electrical shock as long as they are dry. Leather is a popular material for gloves since leather is malleable and easy to work in.
You can’t weld without a helmet. Missouri Welding Institute recommends a helmet with side shields to protect the eyes and skin from exposure to arc rays. Helmets come in different shade levels so make sure you select the right one for you that you can see out. You’ll want a helmet that is comfortable and doesn’t irritate your eyes. For most beginner welders, you’ll probably start out with a dark shade, and then as you get used to welding, you can go lighter.
Missouri Welding Institute warns that you should never weld without wearing a helmet. If you don’t wear a helmet, you can get what is known in the welding world as welder’s flash, which can cause eye discomfort and temporary blindness. In essence, your eyes were exposed to too much UV light. Helmets also protect your face and eyes from heat, sparks, spatter, and electric shock.
Wear your pants over your boots, leather books with ankle coverage and foot protection, and wear ear protection, especially in a noisy environment. Ear muffs are recommended because they will keep out sparks and spatter as well from the sensitive ear canal. Don’t roll up pants of sleeves of your shirt — you are just asking for a spark to find you then.
Welding safety has a lot to do with common sense and always being vigilant. Keep your work area clean and clutter free at all times. Be aware of your surroundings, and don’t use damaged welding equipment. When using new equipment, take the extra few seconds to make sure you know what you’re doing, and when training new welders or around newer employees, keep up a constant watch as well.
Safety is habit. Once you get used to taking every safety precaution necessary, it will become second nature, and welding accidents will be rare indeed.
Missouri Welding Institute offers the best welding programs and welding classes for you to begin a career in welding. Our welding instructors are top-notch, having years of experience and a passion to teach you welding. Our welding facility is over 25,000 square feet, which includes the shop area, pipe fitting laboratory, classrooms, libraries, and offices. We have 84 AC/DC arc welding machines that are capable of SMAW (stick) and GTAW (Tig or Heliarc).
Your training here at Missouri Welding Institute will have you prepared to work any type of welding job in the United States. We offer a master pipe welding and fitting track, as well as a master structural welding and fitting track so you can somewhat specialize in your interests. We also offer a custom welding program for those of you who are just looking to brush up on some new skills and expand your welding knowledge. We help with job placement and have student housing for your convenience.
Missouri Welding Institute’s mission is to see you gain knowledge and expertise to make a real difference in this world as a welder. With so much of our economy dependent upon welding, we know no matter what field you choose that you will help the nation grow. With our job placement assistance program, you can rest assured you’ll be a practicing welder upon graduation. Contact us today to get started!