Welding work brings
regardless of what safety protocols companies have in
place. Minimizing these risks requires extensive training, skill, and expertise from employers
and employees alike. When important safety measures are ignored, welders could face serious
injuries and illnesses. Here is a look at some of the most common welding safety hazards and how
to safeguard against these harmful threats.
The welding arc generates extreme temperatures that pose significant fire and explosion hazards
if proper safety precautions are not taken. Although welding arcs can reach temperatures as high
as 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the real threat comes from the environment around the arc.
It is essential to maintain a workspace that is free of flammable materials, such as oil rags.
Welders should never store butane lighters in their pockets and they should never introduce
oxygen into the welding area. It’s also important to remember that the arc can create spatter
and sparks that can fly up to 35 feet away from the welding space.
To prevent fires and explosions, always inspect the work area for threats before starting your
work. Know where the fire alarms and extinguishers are and ensure that the extinguisher gauge is
full. Ideally, welders should have a fire watcher nearby to keep track of sparks and ensure that
there are no smoldering fires after the job is finished.
2. Electric Shock
Live electrical circuits are used to melt metals during arc welding. Electrocution is a serious
risk that can occur when two metal objects that have voltage differences touch. Electric shock
can result in serious injuries or even death.
Other common electrical hazards include improperly wired machines, improper personal protective
equipment (PPE), high frequency, and removing the cover of the welder.
To avoid electric shock, welders should wear dry gloves and never touch the metal parts of the
electrode holder or the electrode itself with skin or wet clothing. Welders should also inspect
the electrode holder for damage before starting to weld.
3. Fumes and Gases
Exposure to welding fumes and gases can be hazardous to a person’s health if the proper safety
precautions are not taken. Welding fumes contain dangerous complex metal oxide compound from
base-metal coatings or consumables. Welding also exposes a person to invisible gases, such as
ozone, chromium oxides, nitrogen, and carbon monoxide.
When working in welding environments, it’s important to keep your head out of the fume plume and
to always wear approved respiratory devices. Use local exhaust and ventilation to remove harmful
gases and continuously monitor contaminant levels to determine air quality. Welders should also
read material safety data sheets (MSDSs) for electrodes to determine which fumes will be
4. Physical Hazards
Physical hazards are always present when welding, regardless of skill or experience. There is a
serious risk of eye damage, cuts, burns, and crushed fingers, among other injuries. One of the
best ways to reduce these types of risks is by always wearing PPE when performing welding work.
The following PPE is appropriate for most welders:
Welding Helmets – Welders should wear welding helmets with side shields that protect
against particles, UV radiation, and chemical burns.
Fire-Resistant Clothing – This helps reduce the risk of burns caused by heat, fire,
Boots and Gloves – Ideally, welders should wear hard-toe rubber-soled boots and
insulated flame-resistant gloves to protect against hazards like electric shock.
Respirators – Respirators help protect against dangerous fumes and gases.
Competitive Choice, Inc. offers a wide selection of welding supplies and safety equipment
designed to streamline the welding process and keep welders safe from common job hazards.