Welder working on a ship.

Welding Safety – 6 Ways to Stay Safe on the Job

Understanding the importance of welding safety

With so many different opportunities for jobs, employers are looking for skilled welders who are also committed to welding safety. Not all welding is difficult, but there are few subtle safety points that are important to learn about. Understanding eye protection, burns, inhalation of poisonous gases, and exposure to intense ultraviolet radiation is vital to your safety. Wearing the proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) including the appropriate face mask, jacket, pants and gloves are all needed. An accredited and comprehensive welding program will make safety a priority for all of their students, teaching skills to help your career to be long and prosperous.

Maintaining a safe work environment

Being consciously involved with the setup and operation of your work environment is an important step to becoming a proficient welder. As you approach your work area, check to make sure it is clear of tripping hazards and is comfortable for you to work. Next, make sure that you have adequate ventilation to weld. This is one of the most important steps; the inhalation of poisonous shielding gases causes metal fume fever, which can be difficult to treat. After checking the physical preparedness of your workstation, setting the electrical or gas settings for the welding machine comes next. Make sure that the welding material is well grounded and has been cleaned for a solid electrical connection. Follow these simple steps and every project should run smoothly!

Using the proper PPE

Make sure to follow all safety regulations set down by OSHA, as well as any other safety policies that the company you work for has. Having the correct personal protective equipment is the number one priority. Most regulations say to have gear that fits well. Avoiding folded sleeves and wearing leather boots with 6- to 8- inch ankle coverage are recommended. Always keep workpants over the boots, tucking them in can cause sparks to sit in the folds and burn a hole. Heavy-duty flame resistant gloves are needed as well. With the dangers of electrocution, make sure your gloves are always dry. If you are working in a loud environment, always wear earplugs or muffs to prevent any slag from entering the ear canal. To protect your eyes from light-radiation and sparks, start with a dark-tinted visor and slowly lighten it until there is clear visibility of the weld and the puddle.

Staying safe on the construction site

Our world keeps growing and as an ironworker or a construction site welder, it is important to keep up with welding safety regulations. Welders must keep safety in mind, as they are constantly moving around on the job site. At each new worksite, make sure to check the grounding connections, as electrical shock is one of the most dangerous parts of welding. Most machines operate at around 20 to 100 volts of energy, only 50 volts are needed to injure or seriously harm an operator. Keep up with the condition of the electrode, wear good dry gloves, and always insure proper grounding. Working on outside construction sites usually provides for adequate ventilation, but always use proper gear and hoods if needed.

Protecting yourself as a pipe welder

With most high-pressure systems, there is a gas or liquid involved. When involved with a flammable gas or liquids, the biggest danger is a fire or an explosion. The splatter from welding can reach up to thirty-five feet away, so make sure to clear the surroundings, especially if you are in an enclosed space. Most materials are already where they need to be constructed, so pipe welders are often working in the field. Always ensure that you are comfortable in your surroundings and set up the work environment with caution. When tacking the welds, exercise caution to not overload the working materials with weight and avoid standing under the materials. Welders also need to be careful to not introduce defects when applying the tack welds. The welds need to be clean and checked for cracks or discolorations and deposits of flux. These small details can create hazards for the final weld by weakening the metal.

Working safely as an underwater welder

Completely changing your welding environment introduces different welding safety concerns. Divers working in “splash-zones” or wet environments have water currents pushing and pulling as they work. Countering this force while concentrating on the weld can be difficult. These welders usually prepare for the job above the water. They wear a rubber suit with matching gloves and they always ensure that all cables are insulated. Waterproofed electrodes are used with “double-pole switches” which can close simultaneously to interrupt current. The power supply is kept on a rubber or wooden platform and each piece of equipment uses AC power with a ground fault interrupter connected. Gases collect underwater in dangerous ways. Working from the highest point of the weld to the lowest point is one way to dissipate the gas bubbles and prevent explosions. The biggest danger for an underwater welder is decompression sickness; this occurs when divers travel to the surface too quickly and push dissolved gases into other parts of the body. Researchers are continuing to study the effects of diving on the body and how to best keep our welder-divers safe.

Keeping up with the latest safety regulations

Taking these steps to make sure each work environment is secure will change a welder’s career for the better. Each employer should have the same basic safety principles, but keep up with regulation changes to stay up-to-date as a skilled welder. Starting with the basics, a clean, well-ventilated work environment and appropriate safety gear, reinforces good welding safety habits and keeps you ahead of the game as a welder. If you are choosing a training school, make sure to check that it is accredited and can both teach you the proper welding safety procedures as well as make sure students and instructors follow them during classes.