Welding is a crucial trade in construction, manufacturing, and every industry that joins metal components. It is a volatile process that could injure workers if they are not using welding safety equipment like PPE, blankets, and safety screens. Welders use tools to melt metals and attach them to other metals. When the metals cool again, they fuse together. There are a large number of welding processes in the industry. One common kind of welding in the modern era is arc welding. Arc welding uses high voltages of electricity as the force to melt the metals involved. No matter the method of welding used, there are always welding hazards that put workers at risk of injury and death.

Welding Hazards for Workers

There are several occupational hazards for welders if they are not using welding safety equipment. Arc flashes are one such hazard. As defined by OSHA, an arc flash occurs when an electric current follows unexpected paths to grounding because of environmental factors. That unexpected path often includes the welder. Arc flashes can cause extreme injuries and even death. Another of the severe welding hazards is the presence of radiation. Welding produces ultraviolet radiation (UVR), a potent cause of cancer in humans. As this study in the National Library of Medicine discusses, UVR causes health issues in the eyes and skin. In some scenarios with high welding currents, it can affect every worker in the surrounding area. The last hazard we will discuss is the presence of gasses and fumes. Welding vaporizes minute traces of metal as well as whatever coatings were applied to it. Inhaling these fumes is highly dangerous.

The Effect of Welding Burns on Skin

Arc flashes are a drastic occurrence, but welders can also be injured by more mundane sources. Touching the metal, sparks, or equipment while working may cause thermal burns. These welding burns on skin result from the body coming into contact with higher temperatures than it can withstand. The fumes and gasses mentioned in the previous paragraph can also have a corrosive effect. These are referred to as chemical burns. Rather than temperature, these burns result from volatile molecular reactions. Live electricity also causes burns. This is because electricity can be converted to heat when it travels through the body. However, part of the danger is that the course of electricity is unpredictable, and it can damage internal organs without the victim’s awareness. For visible burns, prompt first aid is essential. Learn to identify the different stages of burning and the proper methods of treatment.

Regulatory Standards for Welding Safety Equipment

OSHA has strict regulations for safety in welding. The Occupational Safety and Health Standards explain not only which environments are unacceptable for welding, but also the safety standards for arc welders and welding safety equipment. They ban welding work in conditions where there is uncertain air quality and conductivity. This includes steam and humidity, oil vapor, dust, fumes, and inclement weather. OSHA also has a hand in designating the limits for voltage on different kinds of arc welders. For example, manual alternating-current machines can only go up to 80 volts while an automatic alternating-current machine can use 100 volts. Legal and moral ramifications for avoiding these regulations are severe. Ignoring them can easily lead to worker fatalities, so OSHA takes special care in enforcing these rules.

Basic PPE for Welders

PPE is short for Personal Protective Equipment. The term is used across many industries. PPE is especially critical for safety in welding. Welding safety equipment comes in many forms. Bodily protection, respirators, gloves, and protective barriers and screens are all important for protecting the welder and the people in the surrounding area. Welding helmets often have iconic tilting masks with a lens that darkens the field of view and blocks ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) light. Since arc welding lets off bright light, it is nearly impossible to weld by unprotected sight. Doing so could damage the retina of the eye. Welding goggles perform a similar function in filtering UV and IR light. The downside is they do not protect the face from potential radiation, sparks, or particles emitted from the welding process. The mask is essential for blocking those welding hazards.

Respirators are another piece of important welding safety equipment. They filter the fumes that, as mentioned above, occur as a result of arc welders vaporizing metals. These fumes damage the welder’s lungs and cause intense flu-like symptoms. Many respirators made and marketed for welding are half-face, or mask respirators, which cover the nose, mouth, and surrounding skin. These respirators fit underneath welding helmets with ease. Gloves are critical for a welder’s safety since welding requires fine manual dexterity. These gloves are often leather. Differences in leather result in variances in pricing, quality, dexterity, comfort, flammability, and temperature protection. Durability against flames is a highly prized quality to prevent welding burns on skin. While flame-resistant material will still burn, it stops as soon as it is moved away from the flame. Flame retardant material will not catch fire but the coating that protects it can wear off over time.

Curtains, Barriers, and Environmental Safety in Welding

While the safety of the welder is often addressed, welding hazards can affect other workers in the area as well as civilians. Welding screens are essential welding safety equipment for multiple reasons. Firstly, they create a defined area within which the welder can work. On busy construction sites and in loud, chaotic manufacturing plants, it may not be clear whether or not someone can walk near a welding site. The screen is a temporary solution that keeps people away from the dangerous work. Screens and curtains also reduce noise emissions. Welding can be a loud and jarring process. Without ear protection welding sounds could cause hearing damage or distract workers from focused tasks. As a final point, welding barriers also contain the heat, fumes, and radiation inherent in the high-temperature reactions. Keeping as many of the dangerous variables contained is the best way to implement safety in welding work.

Why Singer Safety Protection Screens?

Singer Safety Company has worked since 1950 to provide the industrial safety industry with high-quality barriers, partitions, and protective curtains. We invented the industrial noise partition in 1965 and have been innovating the best ways to keep workers safe ever since. Our array of welding screens, curtains, panels, blankets, and other materials are sure to fit the needs of your work site no matter where it may be. We offer unique options like flexible roll-up safety screens that can be manipulated into shape. Our welding safety equipment is time-tested and industry-approved. Request a quote or contact our team today!