When it comes to welding, personal safety is not a choice. As a welder, every decision you make should be guided by safety standards set in place by organizations like the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Safety is key to having a long and successful career in the welding industry. Here at Universal Technical Institute (UTI), we take extra precaution to ensure our welders-in-training are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to be safe in the lab and workplace.
Keep reading to learn all about welding safety, including hazards to avoid and important rules to follow.
Is Being a Welder Dangerous?
Welding can be a dangerous occupation when safety guidelines are not followed. If safety measures are ignored, welders can face a variety of hazards, including exposure to harmful fumes and gases, electric shock, fire and explosions and more.
Would it be acceptable for a firefighter to go without his helmet, or a doctor to forego wearing gloves during a critical surgery? Of course not! In the same way, welders must follow a specific set of guidelines to protect themselves and those around them.
Why Welding Safety Is So Important
As welding presents many potential hazards, it’s crucial for welders to practice safety by taking the following steps
Using tools and equipment in the way they are intended
Following all manufacturer guidelines
Ensuring others are not in harm’s way while working
Accidents happen, but many injuries can be avoided by having an understanding of what to do and what not to do when working in a welding environment. Before starting any project, welders must take the time to ensure they know how to execute the task safely above all else. It’s the most important thing they can do to protect themselves and those around them.
Welding Shop Safety: Hazards to Avoid
As mentioned, welders face a variety of potential hazards in the workplace. Some of the most common include:
A sudden discharge of electricity to the human body can lead to serious injuries and in some cases, even death. Electrocution can occur when a welder touches two metal objects that have a voltage between them, which inserts them into the electrical circuit. The higher the voltage, the higher the current, which leads to a higher risk for the welder.
Exposure to Fumes and Gases
Welding fumes contain a variety of potentially harmful metals, including aluminum, beryllium, arsenic, manganese and lead. Gases that contain nitrogen, carbon dioxide, argon, carbon monoxide and hydrogen fluoride are also often produced during welding.
When a welder is overexposed to these fumes and gases, this can lead to serious health problems such as impaired speech and movement, respiratory illness and even cancer.
Without wearing the proper PPE (personal protective equipment), welders can experience a variety of physical hazards, including eye damage, cuts, burns or even crushed fingers and toes. These injuries should be taken seriously, as they can put a welder out of work in some cases.
Fire and Explosions
A welding arc produces extreme temperatures and can spark fire and explosion hazards if safety procedures are not followed. While the arc itself can reach temperatures up to 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the most common cause of fire is when sparks and spatter come in contact with flammable materials around the work area.