Workplace Safety: Top Welding Safety Hazards and How to Prevent Them

Workplace Safety: Top Welding Safety Hazards and How to Prevent Them

21st July 2020

Safety is vital for any welding project. Without proper safety measures, welders face an array of health and safety hazards that could be potentially dangerous. Employers and safety officers need to regularly conduct proper training, inspect the welding equipment, and promote general employee safety awareness to minimise the risk of injuries and fatalities. Below is a list of the common welding safety hazards and efficient ways to prevent them.

  1. Fire and Explosion

The welding process creates extreme temperatures which can pose a significant fire hazard, especially if there are flammable substances around the welding area. The flammable substances could be solids such as paper and wood, liquids such as gasoline and oil, and gas such as hydrogen and acetylene. To prevent this hazard, which could result in an explosion and more fatalities, ensure to inspect and properly clean the work area before you begin to weld.

  1. Physical Hazards

Physical hazards can be inevitable during a welding project. Such hazards can result in cuts, eye damage, and burns. An appropriate PPE can help protect against common physical hazards. Ensure to provide your welders with fire and electricity-resistant clothing, welding goggles and gloves, boots, hand shields, and aprons. You can put on earplugs and earmuffs to protect yourself against noise. Ensure to also provide the necessary access equipment such as safety ladders to help the welder comfortably access raised work areas.

  1. Fumes and Gases

If you’re exposed to welding fumes and gases for a long time can lead to severe health problems such as impaired movement and speech, cancer, and respiratory illnesses. The following precautions can help you control your exposure to fumes and gases:

  • Ensure to wear an approved respirator especially if the exposure assessments exceed applicable exposure limits.

  • Ensure there are adequate ventilation and local exhaust to eliminate fumes and gases from the breathing zones.

  • Report any exposure to welding fumes and gases to your supervisor to allow for immediate checking and mitigation.

  1. Electric Shock

In a typical arc welding process, live electrical circuits are used to create a pool of molten metal, usually used to join metals. Electric shocks are one of the most serious and immediate risks welders face during the welding process. The victim can suffer from a direct shock or from a fall from height after a shock and the results can be serious injuries and fatalities. Electric shocks can also occur if the welder touches a part of the electrode or welding circuit while at the same time touching the metal being welded. To avoid electric shocks while welding, the welder should be very careful while welding:

  • While wearing wet clothing.

  • In damp conditions.

  • In cramped conditions where they might need to crouch, kneel, or lie.

  • On metal flooring or structures.

  1. Radiation

Welders welding without appropriate welding curtains or PPE risk exposure to UV and IR rays that can result in a condition referred to as arc-eye, which can be very painful and long-lasting. The distance, duration, and angle of penetration can affect the severity of a flash burn injury. Long-term exposure to the rays could also cause cataracts which can lead to loss of vision.