Welding is a fundamental aspect of construction that comes with many advances in terms of capabilities and effectiveness as well as overall general safety. However, while great efforts have been made in terms of safety, there is still an inherent danger that comes along with welding.
The positive aspect is, with safety in welders’ minds there is much they can do to minimize the risk to themselves, coworkers, and property. Let’s take a look at some of the main safety checks that every welder should perform on a daily basis to avoid danger.
The article has come up with three different sections. The first one will deal with the safety steps before welding, second will be talking about the safety tips after welding and the final section will reveal some additional tips for safety measures.
Safety Steps to Take Before Welding
Before even touching the welding machine there are a number of very important safety checks to consider at first place. These safety measures may seem like common sense, but it is easy for them to be forgotten or start to become ignored over time because the welding itself might start to feel routine. That is why it is essential to train yourself to make these steps as your habit of your work schedule.
1. Know Your Equipment
As aforementioned, welding technology has developed over the years that implies there have been subtle changes to the equipment. In fact even when a new welding machine is introduced that does function the same as its predecessors. There is still a likelihood to changes that the welder must be aware of. Thus, even if you are an extremely experienced welder, always make it a point to be fully familiar with the particular machine you will be using before you begin.
2. Evaluate Your Equipment
Over time hoses may begin to leak or wiring may become exposed or frayed. When this happens the chances of an accident rise exponentially, and yet this type of common wear and tear is one of the easiest things for people to overlook. It can feel like your machine is perfectly safe if you were just using it the day before, but rather than jumping right back on it, you must make it a point, each and every time you are about to weld, to visually inspect everything before beginning.
3. Check Your Work Area
By its nature, welding produces hazardous fumes. These fumes can be extremely dangerous to workers and others in the area, and it is essential that people are not exposed to them for prolonged periods of time. That is why it is very important to be sure that your welding area is well ventilated before you begin work.
If you are not welding in an open, well-ventilated area, then you must be sure that there is a functioning mechanical ventilation system in place that will be clearing away the dangerous fumes.
4. Consider The Material You Will Be Welding
It is very important to be aware of what type of material you will be dealing with before you begin welding on it. Not only will this affect the welding process itself, but you could be dealing with something that is more dangerous or tricky than you realize.
5. Inform Others About Your Work
The flash from welding can cause serious, painful damage to the human eye. Sparks and fumes also pose a significant risk. However, that will most likely not be the case for someone who walks by unknowingly while you are welding. To protect your coworkers and other visitors to the worksite from these dangers it is imperative that you warn people before you begin welding.
Safety Steps While Welding
Once you have taken care of all of the business listed above, it’s time to begin welding. However. safe welding involves a lot more than simply the actual welding itself. There are still several things that you should be doing to minimize your risk.
1. Wear The Proper Safety Gear
Perhaps the single most important components is to wear the proper safety gear. This includes a suitable welding helmet that will protect your eyes from the flash, while also protecting your face, hair, and skin from sparks, spatter, and other dangerous debris. You should also be wearing a flameproof apron as well as flameproof gauntlet gloves. Don’t forget about your feet either.
2. Protect Others With An Arch Shield Whenever Possible
It is mandatory to notify all coworkers and other people in the area that you are about to begin welding. However, there is still a chance that a new person might arrive while you are working, or that someone whom you warned may accidentally forget and look at your work area. It is essential to ensure for using an arch shield to provide an extra layer of protection for these individuals.
3. Never Look At The Flash
This one is a common practice in welding. A welder should never look at the flash without protection. It is also important to know that the helmet not only protects the eyes but also safeguards your entire face in general.
4. Use Your Helmet and Head Position To Minimize Fume Inhalation
The fumes produced by welding are toxic and prolonged exposure is hazardous to human health. Thereby, it is essential to take careful measures to minimize fume inhalation while you are welding. One good strategy is to try to use your helmet and head positioning in such a way that the fumes are not directly inhaled. For doing this, keep your head away from the plume, stay a step back and to the side of the work. However, if this does not prove to be helpful then the best option is to use breathing equipment under your helmet.
5. Avoid Coiling The Electrode Cable Around Your Body
While welding it is possible for the electrode cable to accidentally twine around arm, leg, or another part of your body. It might be tempting to do this occasionally for convenience. However, this makes welding much more dangerous and increases the risk of an accident. Thereby, always avoid coiling the electrode cable around any part of your body.
6. Ground The Frame of Your Equipment and The Metal Being Welded
Welding poses a significant electrical threat and it is extremely important to minimize this risk as much as possible. One essential step to do so is to always ground both the frame of the welding equipment itself and of the metal as well. Never begin welding if this step has not been performed, and stop immediately if something stops being grounded.
Safety Steps After Welding
At the end of a long shift of welding it is natural to be tired, or simply ready to leave. However, before you do, there are some more final safety steps that you should take. These safety steps will help protect your equipment, coworkers, and property from harm and danger.
1. Make Sure Your Equipment Is Fully Turned Off
Before you step away from your work area, you must always make it a point to make sure that your welding equipment is turned off and properly stored. You should also double check that the gas cylinder valves are fully closed and safely put away. Equipment that has accidentally been left on greatly increases the risk of fires, explosions, or other accidents.
2. Dispose Of Waste Properly and Safely
When you have finished welding you will probably have some used electrode butts lying around as well as perhaps additional scraps from your welding project. These waste items can potentially lead to a safety hazard since they may be very hot, or emit toxic fumes. Thereby, it is essential to dispose of these items properly in the appropriate waste container.
3. Be Vigilant of Sparks, Embers, Smouldering, or Fire
Even after you have finished welding and turned off your equipment, there is still a chance that an errant spark may ignite something in the area. It is important to keep an eye out for this danger for a brief time period after you have finished your work. Of course being vigilant for danger at your worksite is also a good safety strategy in general.
Additional Tips To Remember
The above sections have focused on what to do to maximize safety during the various phases of welding, from before, during, and after. This final section will focus on the important safety steps to keep in mind which should be exercised at all times, regardless of whether or not you are about to weld, welding, or have finished welding. They also provide important, general guidelines.
1. Report All Accidents
Never downplay the importance of reporting all accidents to supervisors. Even something which can seem very trivial at the time, may have a delayed effect or may deteriorate with time. Anytime even a small accident or injury occurs, it is important to report it, every time.
2. No Silly Pranks
It’s only natural to want to liven things up from time to time by letting off a little steam and poking fun at your coworkers. However, silly pranks, even ones that seem harmless, can significantly increase the risk of accidents or injuries. Industrial worksites are simply not the place for this type of behavior and that is especially true if someone is welding nearby.
3. Always Stay Dry
One of the biggest risks welding poses is the threat of electrocution. The chances are high if you are welding in wet areas, with wet hands, or while wearing wet or damp clothing. Instead, always ensure that you, your workspace, and your equipment are as dry as possible. Also, avoid changing electrodes with wet gloves or with your bare hands.
4. Don’t Weld On Containers That Held Combustibles
Remember that even a small residue of a combustible or flammable substance may be enough to set off or spark or start a fire. That means that before welding on any drums, barrels, or tanks which might have held such combustibles it is very important to make sure that they have been properly cleaned and that all safety precautions have been taken.
5. Don’t Leave Your Equipment Unattended
When you are welding and need to stop, it is important to not leave the welding electrode in the electrode holder, or stinger, while you are not around to monitor it. Instead make sure that everything is fully secured and shut off before you step away from your work.
6. Keep Your Workspace Clean
Having extra objects laying around greatly increases the risk that something will get knocked over or will otherwise interfere with your welding. Stray sparks might also ignite or damage such objects. Instead, make it a point to put everything away when you are done using it and to routinely go through and see if there is anything you can move to a more long-term location.
The above list of things to do and things to avoid to maximize daily welding safety can seem like quite a lot to keep track of. However, most of these safety checks are easy to incorporate into your routine and will start to become second nature after a period of time. The reward will be in the form of a safe, accident-free workplace. It should be more than enough motivation to take those extra steps to make sure that everything is done right.