Tips for Improving Welding Safety
Completing a weld requires more than simply obtaining the right tools. You have to know how to use those tools safely and to their full potential. From the clothes you wear to the clutter accumulating around you, there are many aspects of your work area and practices you have to keep in mind when welding. These tips for improving welding safety will help keep you and your coworkers safe during day-to-day operations.
Always Read the Manual
Every piece of equipment you use for welding should come with an owner’s manual. Always remember to hang onto that manual and read it thoroughly. Don’t just flip through it when you have spare time.
Invest time in studying and understanding the manual’s recommendations for safety precautions, proper handling techniques, scheduled maintenance, and more. This isn’t just for newcomers to welding, it’s important for even highly experienced welders to read through the owner’s manual when operating a new piece of technology. In fact, if it’s been a while since you’ve last sifted through your current equipment’s manual, now is as good a time as any to read through it once more to sharpen your knowledge.
Cover Exposed Skin
If you’re welding in a T-shirt and shorts, your skin is vulnerable to common hazards such as ultraviolet/infrared rays, sparks, and other hot debris that can emit from your weld. This is why you need the right jacket and pants to keep you protected. Firstly, make sure you have a flame-resistant shirt, jacket, and pants.
It’s vital to make sure all of that clothing is fire-resistant, or else you’ll be a walking fire hazard in an area where you really don’t want to be a fire hazard. Make sure to button up your fire-resistant clothes all the way to maximize safety.
Because of the sparks emitting during a weld, you have to protect any pockets on your clothes as well. Whether it’s a jacket pocket or a pants pocket, you need to effectively cover it to prevent sparks and other hot debris from getting caught inside and causing damage. For this same reason, always make sure to avoid pants with cuffs because sparks can become caught in there as well.
Wear the Right PPE
Not only should you be wearing the right clothes, but you should also be wearing the right personal protective equipment over those clothes for maximum protection. Welding requires an assortment of gear that will protect you from harmful radiation, bright lights, sparks, electric shocks, and various harmful debris. Make sure you’re always wearing a welding helmet, additional eye protection, ear protection, respirators, (when necessary), protective footwear, and gloves while you’re completing a weld.
In some cases, you’ll need to wear a respirator along with your welding helmet. The purpose of the respirator is to protect your lungs from harmful materials. For instance, when using TIG welding to complete a project, you’ll use a tungsten electrode. This electrode emits low levels of radiation which can be harmful if inhaled. With a respirator protecting your nose and mouth, you’ll be ready to weld with comfort and safety.
Your eyes need protection from sparks and other debris anytime you’re welding. Even if your helmet has a visor, you can usually fit extra eye protection underneath when necessary. That being said, the necessity for proper eye protection stretches beyond protecting from debris.
Some welding methods, such as arc welding, require special lenses so you can safely look at the arc while you weld. Different welding methods require different shades of protective lens, so make sure you have the right lens for your specific needs.
Additionally, there are auto-darkening helmets that exist which can help you with a bevy of welding methods. These auto-darkening helmets can adjust the protective lens depending on the specific welding method you’re using due to the fact that certain amperage levels require different sensitivity settings than others.
When you’re welding, you certainly don’t want to do it while wearing your everyday sneakers. Instead, wear high-topped leather boots instead, preferably steel toed. Your footwear should be as comfortable as it is safe, so don’t be afraid to be picky when shopping for work boots. When it comes to protective welding footwear, aside from comfort, the two most important factors to consider are shock resistance and fire resistance.
Provide Enough Ventilation
As mentioned above, some welding methods require you to wear a respirator. However, you still need to make sure your whole workspace has proper ventilation at all times. Welding in a confined space can lead to the accumulation of smoke and other toxic fumes which can be dangerous to you and everyone around you when inhaled.
Industrial work environments must have as little clutter as possible. This is because most industrial work environments require large pieces of machinery to operate on a daily basis. In the case of welding, you’re working with a lot of machinery that emits dangerous materials. With the right gear, you can keep yourself away from harmful debris, but you also have to think about your surroundings.
You should designate specific areas for you to put tools instead of just placing them around your workspace randomly when you don’t use them. If boxes, files, tools, or other obstructions are cluttering your workspace, this is a big issue for multiple reasons.
Firstly, you or someone around you can trip over objects aimlessly laying around on the floor. This can lead to someone falling on a hot surface, dropping a dangerous object onto someone or something, and other avoidable occurrences. Plus, if you’re cluttering flammable objects around your workspace, you’re creating a major fire hazard.
Given all the hot materials you’re working with during each weld, it’s vital for you to make sure the environment around you isn’t susceptible to catching fire. Fire prevention is an absolute necessity in all work environments, especially when that environment is home to welding on a daily basis.
These tips for improving welding safety will help you complete tasks without putting you or your coworkers at risk. Work environments in which welding occurs are full of dangerous equipment. Thankfully, as long as you and everyone around you are knowledgeable and focused on safe welding practices, everyone will be able to complete day-to-day operations without incidents.
At Welding for Less, we can provide you with a wide range of welding protective gear such as welding helmets, jackets, lenses, and gloves to keep you safe during each and every welding task.