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Lincoln Electric Shares How to Avoid Welding Hazards

Lincoln Electric compiled a list of potential welding hazards and how to avoid them, based on OSHA safety guidelines. 

December 16, 2015

Lincoln Electric compiled a list of potential welding hazards and how to avoid them, based on OSHA safety guidelines. 

1. Electric shock

Electric shock is one of the most serious and immediate risks facing a welder. Electric shock occurs when welders touch two metal objects that have a voltage between them, thereby inserting themselves into the electrical circuit.

To avoid secondary voltage shock, welding operators should wear dry gloves in good condition, never touch the electrode or metal parts of the electrode holder with skin or wet clothing and be sure to insulate themselves from the work and ground, keeping dry insulation between their body and the metal being welded or ground (such as a metal floor or wet surface).

2. Fumes and gases

Welding fume contains potentially harmful complex metal oxide compounds from consumables, base metal and the base-metal coatings, so it’s important to keep your head out of the fumes and use enough ventilation and/or exhaust to control your exposure to substances in the fume, depending on the type of rod and base metal being used.

All welding operators should be aware that there are ACGIH threshold limit values (TLV) and OSHA permissible exposure limits (PEL) for the substances in welding fume. These limits specify the amount of a substance in your breathing air to which welding operators can be exposed every day they work over the course of their career.

3. Fire and Explosions

To prevent fires, before beginning to weld, inspect the work area for any flammable materials and remove them from the area. Flammable materials are comprised of three categories: liquid, such as gasoline, oil and paint; solid, such as wood, cardboard and paper; gas, including acetylene, propane and hydrogen.

Know where the fire alarms and extinguishers are located, and check the extinguisher’s gauge to make sure it is full. If an extinguisher is not available, be sure to have access to fire hoses, sand buckets or other equipment that douses fire. And, know the location of the nearest fire exit.

4. Injuries From Insufficient PPE

Leather and flame-resistant treated cotton clothing is recommended in welding environments. This is because synthetic material such as polyester or rayon will melt when exposed to extreme heat. Welding leathers are especially recommended when welding out of position, such as applications that require vertical or overhead welding.

Avoid rolling up sleeves or pant cuffs, as sparks or hot metal will deposit in the folds and may burn through the material. Keep pants over the top of work boots – don’t tuck them in. Even when wearing a helmet, always wear safety glasses with side shields or goggles to prevent sparks or other debris from hitting the eyes. Leather boots with 6-to-8-inch ankle coverage are the best foot protection; metatarsal guards over the shoe laces can protect feet from falling objects and sparks.

 

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