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When you’re welding, there are many hazards you have to mindful of, such as electric shocks, toxic fume inhalation, and fires. In order to keep your welding environment free of fire hazards, there are some particular steps you’ll have to take.
It might take some time to gather up the supplies, but when you’re free of burns at the end of each weld, you’ll be happy you did it. To help you successfully complete tasks in the safest way possible, we’ll take you through the most effective ways to prevent welding fires.
Whenever welders work, they need to wear quite a few pieces of PPE, many of which exist to prevent fires and burns from occurring. Specifically, PPE such as fireproof welding gloves, shirts, pants, jackets, and headwear are crucial to your safety during a weld. PPE isn’t typically a one-size-fits-all kind of subject when it comes to welding. The reason for this is that there are different types of welding methods, each one of which requires the welder to accommodate different safety specifications.
For instance, if you’re using stick welding for a certain task, it can get pretty messy, so you should wear a leather jacket made from either Elkskin or Cowhide. These materials will keep you out of harm’s way during welds, while also remaining comfortable enough to wear and maneuver.
TIG welding, on the other hand, is arguably the cleanest of the welding methods, but you still have to keep fire and burn prevention in mind. This is why leather jackets made from Deerskin, Kidskin, and Goatskin are best suited for TIG welding methods since they’re lightweight but durable enough to keep welders safe.
Another factor to consider when it comes to PPE is any holes and openings, which is why you should inspect PPE before wearing it. If your PPE has holes that cannot be effectively repaired, promptly replace it. Besides tears, rips, and holes, inspect your PPE for areas in which sparks, hot metal, and other debris can land and begin smoldering. Areas on your clothing that can capture hazardous debris include open pockets, shirt collars, rolled-up sleeves, and pant cuffs. Take the time to cover up these hazardous areas before embarking on any welding task.
Before beginning a weld, take the time to inspect your work environment. When it comes to fire safety, start by looking for any combustible or flammable materials. Common flammable and combustible materials include wood, paper, plastic, dust, chemicals, towels, bags, cardboard boxes, and various liquids and gasses (even if they’re in canisters).
However, your fire safety inspection should include more than inspecting loose objects around the workplace. Think about your flooring, ceiling, and walls, too. Aside from the material they’re made from, think about what’s on these areas in the facility. For example, cleaning chemical residue on the floor can cause fires during a weld.
Furthermore, make sure there aren’t any leaks causing flammable liquids to accumulate on surfaces like the ground or walls. Leaks can also stem from gas canisters, so investigate them for any signs of vapor before your weld.
Another set of hazards to keep in mind during your inspection are holes in the walls and floors. They might look small—so much so that they’ll be hard to spot at first—but holes and cracks in the workplace can cause big troubles. The reason for this is the fact that sparks and other hot debris can fall inside these holes. If this happens, the hazardous debris can discretely smolder over a period of time before actually causing a large, noticeable fire.
Now, the important question is: what should you do once you find flammable or combustible materials? If you can simply move the hazardous materials to a safe area, then do exactly that.
Unfortunately, you’re not going to be able to remove every hazard. For example, you can’t relocate a crack in the wall or a hole in the floor. So, in cases like this, you’ll need to grab a fireproof covering and securely place it over the hazard. Not only should you have fireproof material on-deck for situations like this, but you also need to have a fire watcher on duty too.
A fire watcher, as the name suggests, is someone who watches over the workplace to check if combustion or fire hazards are present while you’re welding. Even after placing a fireproof covering over hazards, it’s crucial to have a fire watcher on duty to help out. After you’re done welding, have the fire watcher monitor the area for an additional thirty minutes to keep an eye out for potential smoldering.
One last solution to consider when it comes to fire and combustion hazards is moving the welding location to somewhere else. Not everyone is going to have this luxury, but if you do, you should take advantage of it.
Any welding environment should have fire extinguishers nearby at all times. These fire extinguishers should be at a comfortable distance so that an employee can access them with enough time to subside the flames.
Not only should you be familiar with the fire extinguisher location(s) in the workplace, but you should also know how to use one. Before even putting the fire extinguishers in your facility, make sure to do the right research so that you’d be able to use the extinguishers effectively and efficiently if a fire erupted that day.
Another crucial part of having fire extinguishers is regularly inspecting them for any signs of damage or dust accumulation. You should also be mindful of the expiration date of your fire extinguishers, as well as whether or not they are full, empty, or somewhere in between.
Now that you’re familiar with the most effective ways to prevent welding fires, you can avoid burning yourself or causing a fire to erupt while you’re working. Visit our shop to find welding protective gear at the best prices around, such as Cowhide welding jackets, so you can stay safe without breaking the bank. Whether you weld at home or at a professional facility somewhere else, it’s crucial to use these fire prevention methods at all times.
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