As a kid, I remember going to our family farm almost every weekend to “help” my dad with chores (more like get in his way) and work on our farm equipment. That usually meant welding a piece of machinery back together that I broke while using the day before. As I stood there watching him weld the pieces, he was always reminding me to “stand back” and “don’t look at the arc.”
Welding is an integral part of many of the day-to-day operations that are needed for both small businesses and larger corporations. It is estimated that there are over 500,000 welders in the workplace today across a wide array of industries. As with any profession, welding carries risks that can lead to serious injury or significant property damage if basic safety measures are not taken. The following welding safety tips can help prevent worker injury or significant damage to property.
- Wear proper safety equipment. This includes safety glasses, welding bandana, light-weight welding jacket, industrial grade auto-darkening helmet, heavy-duty welding gloves, leather apron, denim pants without cuts, and leather shoes.
- Ensure the welding area does not have flammable materials present such as papers, combustible vapors or dusts, paints, or gasoline. Also, be sure the clothing you are wearing has not been exposed to any flammable liquids.
- Cylinders used in welding must be properly stored. They should remain upright and never placed horizontally. Chain them properly to an immovable object to prevent them from being knocked over.
- One or more fire extinguishers of a suitable, approved type should be kept at the cutting or welding location. All extinguishers must have current service tags and seals.
- When welding or cutting above or within 20 feet of combustible construction or material, noncombustible shields should interpose to protect materials and persons from sparks and hot metal oxide. In addition, a “fire watch” should be on hand to make use of fire extinguishing equipment.
- All welders should receive training on the safe use of equipment and processes, safe work practices, and emergency procedures.
Safe welding procedures are not something to take lightly or disregard. By keeping a safety-oriented mindset in your welding work, you may help prevent a serious injury to yourself or fellow co-workers.