Safety Tips for Beginning Welders
If you’re thinking about going into welding either as a hobby or as a profession, the most critical thing you can do is learn to protect yourself and those around you. Working with welding equipment can be incredibly dangerous if you’re not using the proper equipment and safety protocols.
It’s important to keep in mind that you’ll be using tools designed to melt down metals and fuse them together, so the amount of accidental damage that you could do to a person or property is massive. Before you begin, try to consider these safety tips for beginning welders, and you should have no problem staying safe.
Wear Your PPE
Your personal protective equipment (PPE) is absolutely essential when it comes to protecting yourself against the hazards of welding. It is possible for a torch to become so hot that even just being too close to it can cause severe burns. You want to make sure you have a quality flame retardant coverall. The materials in coveralls can take in massive amounts of heat without transferring it through to your skin.
Your welding shield will also be key here, as the lights from some torches will be so bright and emit so much ultraviolet light that they can burn your cornea after long exposures. Your gloves and boots will also protect you from the intense heat.
Know Your Manual
This is important even for long-time professionals. When you get a new piece of equipment, it is vital that you familiarize yourself with it before you ever turn it on. While you may be able to get away with skipping the instructions for your new TV, going in blind to use a piece of welding equipment can spell disaster.
Something like a tig welding torch reaches 3400 degrees Celsius (over 6000 degrees Fahrenheit) just to start, which is enough to melt almost any known material in the world other than diamond. Make sure you’re fully prepared to begin using these potentially dangerous tools before diving in.
In any welding area, everything should have a designated place. To avoid clutter, make sure to return every piece of equipment to its proper storage location once you have finished using it. Also, be sure to keep your workspace clean and free of clutter. The only things you should have at your station are your tools.
Keep your area as clean and tidy as you possibly can; the wrong thing in the wrong place at the wrong time can create a dangerous situation should something accidentally happen. Always remember to pick up after yourself and inspect your station before you begin.
Ideally, the owner of your shop should have taken care of the building’s safety precautions well before anyone started working in there—but this is not always the case. The federal government’s Department of Labor sets in place minimum requirements through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
These requirements are publicly available to anyone who wants to find them. A few of the key things they require for welding areas are spacing between stations, floors are not made from wood, and dry floors at all times. Your shop may also have these safety guidelines posted somewhere accessible to all workers.
Accidents happen. Regardless of how long someone has been welding, at some point, a mistake is bound to be made. There can even be unavoidable things like a part failing or an electrical fire that starts in the walls. It’s important that you know what to do in situations like these so you can respond appropriately and safely.
Make sure you know your building’s emergency evacuation plan and the location of fire extinguishers. Depending on the area you live in, it may also be important to note where to find shelter in case of a natural disaster like a tornado or an earthquake. It’s also good to know where the nearest first-aid kit is in case of injury.
One of the often overlooked or underestimated dangers of welding is the risk of repetitive stress injuries. Over time, doing the same kinds of motions again and again is going to cause some wear and tear on your muscles, nerves, and ligaments. To prevent injuries like these from happening, it is important not to jump straight into your work for the day.
Start by stretching, then continue to stretch throughout the day. It’s also important to make sure that you don’t get your only exercise from welding; keeping a healthy exercise regimen to break up the monotony of your movements can improve your stamina and strengthen your muscles and joints.
Always Be Safe
Just about everyone has had a job where they can start to ignore the more mundane procedures once they’ve gotten comfortable. This is not an option that you will have as a welder. It’s easy to brush off the small steps in order to get into the work more quickly, but doing this can leave you unprepared in case something does happen. Don’t think of this guide as just the steps for getting started – take it into account each time you go in and get yourself ready.
Always remember that safety isn’t just for you—it’s for everyone else’s sake, too. Each small effort on the part of everyone adds to an environment where everyone can feel safe. At Welding for Less, your safety is our priority, and we want you to feel safe when you use the products we carry.
While welding is a useful and marketable skill to have, it comes with its own set of risks. Poor planning and preparation can lead to serious and sometimes fatal injuries. Luckily, it’s fairly easy to make sure that you’re taking the right steps towards making yourself and the people around you safe. If you wear your personal protective equipment, read the manual and don’t do guesswork, stay organized at your station, and pay attention to your surroundings, you will set yourself up for both safety and success.
Using these safety tips for beginning welders with your coworkers is the best way to build trust and a sense of community in your shop. Remember to follow these guidelines not only as a beginner, but also as you advance and become more comfortable. Safety is always the number one priority when it comes to welding.