Welding Safety: For The Welder And The Environment

When welding many dangers lurk. Without adequate protection, there is a risk of lasting damage to the eyes, and the sparks and gases released during welding work can lead to fires and explosions. You can find out how to recognize the most common sources of danger during welding work and how to increase welding safety in the guide below. If you need welding works and have never used a welder before, contact welding professionals (including welder for aluminum) to do it for you.

Welding danger to health and the environment

Pollutants from welding

Depending on the welding technique, different pollutants can arise during welding work. When welding painted metals, for example, pollutants are released when the paint layer burns. This also applies when welding oil-smeared or plastic-coated metals. In addition, when welding alloyed metal or steel, for example, toxic chrome and nickel smoke can be produced. Some pollutants mentioned can cause allergies and serious illnesses such as cancer. In addition, if there is a strong release of pollutants, there is a risk of impaired consciousness, which further reduces welding safety. In addition, the resulting pollutants pollute the environment.

This is the best possible way to protect yourself from harmful substances caused by welding
The release of pollutants during welding cannot always be completely prevented. However, you can minimize the risks from pollutants with the following measures:

Remove paint and dirt: Before welding, remove paint, coatings and dirt with a generous amount of space around the welding point.
Keep welding current and voltage low: Reducing welding current and voltage can partially reduce the release of pollutants.
Avoid Thorium Oxide Electrodes: If possible, avoid using electrodes that contain radioactive thorium oxide.
Low-pollutant welding processes: Welding processes with powder, laser and pulse welding and tungsten inert gas welding are considered relatively low-pollutant. Most pollutants are released by hand during arc welding with stick electrodes. A lower-polluting alternative to this is MAG welding.
Respiratory protection: Various breathing protection systems are available for welding, most of which are adapted to the respective welding process.
Good ventilation: The pollution can be partially reduced by good ventilation.

Noise hazard

Depending on the welding process, considerable noise is generated during welding. Therefore, hearing protection can be used during welding work . In general, hearing protection is required from a noise level of 85 dB. If you already have hearing damage, you should wear hearing protection from a level of 80 dB. Hearing protection is also required for welding assistants and other people who are in the vicinity of the welding location if the noise levels are high.

Confined spaces pose a particular risk

Gases and pollutants can accumulate particularly quickly in confined spaces. These include, for example, boilers, small boiler rooms or shafts. For this reason, breathing protection is sometimes required for welders and assistants in tight spaces when welding. Active ventilation of the rooms can reduce the risk of pollutant and gas accumulation in the air in many ways. In addition, ventilation prevents a lack of oxygen from welding work. To prevent fire, however, it is not allowed to ventilate with pure oxygen. Oxygen is therefore in no way suitable for cooling the welding area.

Protective equipment when welding – basic equipment

When welding, temperatures of up to several thousand degrees Celsius are generated. You should therefore always wear protective clothing to protect against skin burns . The basic equipment for welders therefore includes the following protective equipment:

  • Welding shield for head and eyes with radiation protection filter
  • Welding gloves
  • Leather apron, protective welding suit
  • special welding protective shoes
  • possibly a welder’s hat
  • Special welding processes sometimes require special protective equipment.

Radiation hazard: Radiation during welding

If an arc occurs during welding, it releases strong UV radiation that can damage eyes and skin. The UV rays on the eye cause conjunctivitis, among other things. However, prolonged exposure can cause permanent damage to the eyes. Blindness is also possible due to a lack of eye protection during welding work.

In the long term, UV radiation and infrared radiation from welding can promote skin cancer and premature skin aging. In addition, both types of radiation can trigger “sunburn” and lead to clouding of the lens and cataracts in the long term. Another danger when welding without adequate eye protection is visible glare. This can severely limit the ability to see and thus occupational safety in the short term.

Suitable protective measures against radiation during welding

This is how welders and people in the vicinity of welding work can best protect themselves from the radiation that occurs.

Personal protective equipment:

The basic equipment for welding includes a protective shield or welding mask with sufficient side protection against radiation from the side. Simple welding goggles do not adequately protect the skin on the face and neck.

A special protective suit is required to keep radiation away from the body. The hands must be protected from radiation and heat with welding gloves.

Quality goggles to protect the eye. Inadequate protection for the eyes through merely tinted plastic without adequate UV shielding is particularly dangerous. Due to the reduced incidence of light, the pupils dilate behind the protection. This additionally increases the incidence of UV radiation.

Protect people in the vicinity:

UV and infrared radiation can spread far beyond the actual welding area. Welding work also endangers other employees in the company or uninvolved people. You can prevent the spread of radiation by shielding the welding area with welding curtains or welding protection walls. If this is not completely possible, or if, for example, other workers are near the welding location, they must also wear appropriate protective equipment.