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What are the safety precautions used in welding and its personal protective equipment ?

We have seen the overview of a welding process, Arc welding process, Gas welding process types of flames in Gas welding and Difference between Arc welding and Gas welding, difference between DC  welding and AC welding, soldering and brazing and common welding defects with the help of our previous posts.

Let us now see here the various important personal protective equipment (PPE) that are required while welding activity and we will also see here the importance of these personal protective equipment (PPE) in a welding activity. 



Figure 1 :  Personal Protective Equipment



Eye and Face protection 


Eye injury may occur from the radiation and intense light that are produced during welding operation/activity. Eye injury may also occur from the hot slag that can fly off from the welding activity during the cooling, grinding or chipping.


In order to protect eyes from the welding light and radiation, we should wear a welder’s helmet fixed with a filter shade that is suitable for the type of welding we execute.


We must wear safety glasses with side goggles or shields and face shield during grinding or chipping the work piece. 


We should always wear safety glasses under a welding helmet to secure additional protection against flying hot metal slag. 



Eye and face protection suitable for welding activities 


According to Canadian Standards Association (CSA) standard Z94.3.1 "Selection, use, and care of protective eyewear", there are following classes of eye protection as mentioned below. 


Figure-2 : Eye Protection Classes 


There are few engineering practices or operations that require full face protection and therefore either a welding helmet or a hand shield will be preferred to use.  


  1. Arc welding 

  2. Plasma arc cutting, gouging or welding 

  3. Air carbon arc cutting 


There are few activities such as Gas cutting, brazing etc where the intensity of the light will be much less as compared to arc welding, plasma arc cutting and gouging. Lighter shade filter lenses could be used with safety goggles in place of a helmet. 


Contact lenses must not be worn by welding personnel or welders. Contact lenses will not provide protection from flying objects and ultraviolet radiation.  

 


Skin protection during welding activities 


  1. All fabric garments must be resistant to heat, spark and flame  

  2. All fabric must be cleaned and free from combustible materials that might be ignited by a spark 

  3. Wear long sleeves and pant legs 

  4. Button up your shirt in order to protect the skin at the throat and neck area 

  5. Wear tightly woven work-weight fabrics in order to resist the UV radiation to reach your skin 

  6. Cover your head with a fabric cap in order to protect the scalp from UV radiation 

  7. Protect the back of your head with the help of a hood 

  8. Protect your face from UV radiation by using a tight fitting opaque welder's helmet 



Respiratory protection during welding activities 


  1. Respiratory protection is required where ventilation is not enough to remove the welding fumes or where there is probability of oxygen deficiency. 

  2. Choose respirators in compliance with your workplace safety policy and regulation. 

  3. Consult with an expert for his advice and start a suitable respiratory protection methodology. 



Protective clothing during welding activities 


  1. Always remove each ignition source i.e. lighters, matches from pockets before initiating the welding activities. Because, a single hot welding spark may ignite leaking lighter fuel and matches too. 

  2. Always wear clothes made from 100% wool or cotton, heavyweight and tightly woven in order to protect against the UV radiation, sparks, hot metal and open flames. 

  3. Always wear high top shoes or boots fully laced in order to restrict the sparks to enter into the shoes or boots. 

  4. Always keep your clothes neat and clean and free of lubricants, greases, oils and combustible materials. 

  5. Your shirt pockets must be closed or keep them covered with flaps in order to avoid the entry of sparks or hot metal inside your shirts pockets as it can cause injury.  

  6. Always wear long sleeved shirts along with buttoned cuffs & a collar in order to protect the neck. 

  7. Always check and rectify all tears, frayed edges or holes in clothing. 

  8. Your pant legs should not have cuffs & must cover the tops of the shoes or boots. Because, cuffs may collect the sparks and it may cause the injury. 

  9. Use the fire resistant safety shoes or boots protectors in order to restrict the sparks from bouncing in the top of the boots. 

  10. Always wear the leather aprons in order to protect your lap, chest from sparks when sitting or standing. 


  11. As we know that leather is a very good electrical insulator if we keep it dry and hence always wear gauntlet-type of cuff leather gloves or protective sleeves of identical material in order to protect the forearms and wrists. 

  12. Always wear a welder's face shield in order to protect your face from the UV radiation and also from flying particles.

  13. Think about wearing layers of clothing. In order to prevent sweating, avoid overdressing in cold weather. Sweaty clothes will cause rapid heat loss. Leather welding jackets, used mostly during welding activities, are not very breathable & it can make us sweat if we are overdressed. 

  14. Always wear a fire resistant skull cap under your helmet in order to protect your head from UV radiation and burns. 

  15. Never wear jewelry such as rings. 

  16. Do not wear clothes that are made from synthetic blends and synthetic. The synthetic fabric may burn strongly, melt & develop bad skin burns.  

We will see now the welding symbols and their meaning and we will also see the components of welding hand shields and helmets in our next post.

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