While an often rewarding and exciting career, welding can become dangerous if you are not taking the necessary safety precautions. You might be surprised to hear it, but more than 500,000 employees are at risk for exposure to chemical and physical hazards of welding, cutting, and brazing. Welders flash alone accounts for 5.6% of all construction eye injuries. To make sure you are protecting yourself from all the little mistakes that can lead to significant accidents, follow these safety tips.
1. Get the Right Training
Welding is an art, and it is a science. And it is not to be done by amateurs without the proper training. Beyond traditional education and apprenticeship, it’s essential to make sure you are up to date on the current training manuals relevant to your machines or procedures. Reading updated safety manuals is a great way for welders to make sure they are using their machines to its full potential while at the same time mitigating safety hazards.
2. Follow the Dress Code
Having the proper attire when welding can mean the difference between productivity and disaster. Any exposed skin during welding is vulnerable to infrared and UV rays from a welding machine. Make sure you are buttoned up. Do not wear pants with cuffs, as they can catch flying sparks unknowingly. Do not keep matches, lighters, or any other flammable device in your pocket. Do not wear shorts, cargo pants, or short-sleeved shirts that expose skin unnecessarily.
Only wear flame-resistant clothing, such as denim pants and a shirt made from tightly-woven material or a welding jacket. Wear the proper jacket, gloves, and welding helmet for each and every weld (even just a quick tack). High-top leather shoes or boots are the best options for welding footwear, and remember your pant legs should go over the shoes to prevent sparks from flying inside your footwear. That means no tennis or cloth shoes, no matter how comfortable they are. And of course, never forget your helmet. Welding helmets should be fitted with a proper filter shade to protect the operator’s face and eyes when welding or watching. Approved safety glasses with side shields and ear protection should be worn under the helmet and are not considered an adequate replacement.
3. Make Sure You Can Breathe
This seems like an obvious one, but remember that when welding, you never know what toxic gases and fumes might be accumulating. In confined spaces, this is a particular problem for welders. Make sure that the area where you’re welding is well-ventilated with exhaust hoods. Or if the machine you are using requires a respirator, be sure to wear the correct one properly fitted.
4. Don’t Overlook the Importance of Ergonomics
Even when handling dangerous machines in confined spaces or at odd angles, it can be easy to forget or forgo the cautions of ergonomics. But you can hurt yourself just as easily by not remembering your posture or stress injuries as any other way. Avoid repetitive stress injuries. Take breaks to stretch your arms and legs if necessary. Always practice safe lifting techniques, and always remember the importance of good safety housekeeping. Never leave any clutter in the welding area, and only tools immediately being used should remain in the area when working.
Work with the Recruiters at Williams
For help finding your next welding job, connect with our safety-minded recruiters at Williams today.