Welding Safety

Updated: Dec 19, 2021



Welding presents several hazards to those who are undertaking the activity and others who are in the vicinity. It is important that you are aware of, and understand the controls, for the risks and hazards of welding.


Electric Shock

When welding you are at risk of experiencing a risk of electric shock. A electrical shock is the most serious hazard posed by welding and can result in serious fatalities and injury. You could receive a direct shock or a secondary shock, should you touch part of the welding or electrode circuit at the same time as touching the metal you are welding


When welding you are at risk of experiencing a risk of electric shock. A electrical shock

is the most serious hazard posed by welding and can result in serious fatalities and injury. You could receive a direct shock or a secondary shock, should you touch part of the welding or electrode circuit at the same time as touching the metal you are welding.


You are at even more of a risk if you work in electrically hazardous conditions

while welding.


These could include:


  • Damp conditions

  • Wearing wet or damp clothing

  • Area with metal flooring or structures

  • Cramped conditions where you are required to kneel, lie or crouch.

Noise

When carrying out welding activities, you are likely to be exposed to loud, prolonged

noise. A loud noise is considered to be above 85dB(A). A good rule of thumb is that

if you have to shout to be heard the environmental could likely be over 85dB(A) and

hearing protection is recommended.


Exposure to prolonged loud noise can result in noise-induced hearing loss. Noiseinduced hearing loss can have the following side-effects:

  • Ringing in the ears, know as tinnitus

  • Occasional dizziness, known as vertigo

  • Increased heart rate

  • Increased blood pressure


UV and IR Radiation

Looking at the intense bloom of UV light when welding can result in painful and

sometimes long-lasting condition called arc-eye.


Many factors can affect the severity of a flash burn injury, such as distance, duration

and angle of penetration. Long-term exposure to arc flashes could also potentially

result in cataracts and lead to a loss of vision.


Other forms of eye damage include:

  • Foreign bodies entering the eye, including grit, sparks and dust

  • Particulate fumes and gases, which could lead to conjunctivitis


It is important to wear eye protection and / or use welding curtains to prevent injury.


Fumes

Gas and fumes can be created by welding. These can easily penetrate into your lungs. Depending on the gas or fume, the concentration and duration of the exposure, the resultant damage can be severe.


Illnesses caused by welding fumes and gases include:


  • Pneumonia: Regular exposure to welding fumes and gases can result in a lung infection, which could develop into pneumonia. Most infections can be stopped by antibiotics, however severe pneumonia can result in hospitalization, serious illness or fatality.

  • Occupational Asthma: Chromium oxides and nickel oxides produced by stainless steel and high nickel alloy welding can both cause asthma.

  • Cancer: All welding fumes are internationally considered ‘carcinogenic’.

  • Metal Fume Fever: Welding or hot work on galvanized metal and high steel weld fume exposure can often result in ‘flu-like’ symptoms.

  • Throat and Lung irritation: this can include throat dryness, tickling of the throat, coughing and chest tightness.


Burns

The combination of high-temperature welding arcs, UV rays and molten metal

means you are susceptible to severe burns during welding. These burns can

affect the skin or eyes and can be very serious. They can also happen very

quickly.


Fire

Avoid keeping flammable materials in the vicinity of welding processes as

sparks, heat and molten metal splatters produced in the welding process could

potentially set flammable material on fire. Assess your surroundings for fire

hazards prior to welding.


Appropriate PPE

When welding ensure you are wearing the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment

(PPE) to protect yourself.


  • Welding Helmets - Welding helmets protect you from UV radiation, particles, debris, hot slag and chemical burns. The helmet lens come in different options from the type of welding. Ensure your lens is suitable for the task.

  • Respirators - Respirators protect you from fumes and oxides that the welding process creates. Ensure your respirator you have the correct filter and has been fit-tested.

  • Complete positive and negative pressure checks before welding starts.

  • Fire Resistant Clothing - Fire resistant clothing protects you from heat, fire and radiation created in the welding process and shields you from burns.

  • Ensure it is rated to AS/NZS standards.

  • Ear Protection - Protect your hearing from noise in the workplace. If you can source fire resistant ear protection, this would be ideal.

  • Safety Footwear and Gloves - Insulated, flame resistant gloves and rubber soled, steel cap safety footwear to shield you from electric shocks, heat, fire, burns and falling objects.


Need Assistance?

Our team are available if you require assistance with welding health and safety.

Please contact us if you require any advice or check out our website:

https://www.ohsconsultants.nz



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