Metal welding involves the application of heat to join two metals together. The heat is generated through electric currents (arc welding) or gases (gas welding).
Welding is undertaken in many industries for purposes including the manufacture of machinery, tools and equipment and repair and maintenance work.
Those most at risk of welding-related injuries are operators producing industrial or commercial machinery and fabricated metal products.
The most common causes of injury from welding result from:
• Manual handling
• Fire, explosions and radiation exposure
• Electric shock
• Employers must provide a safe work environment for workers by implementing adequate controls for all identified workplace hazards.
Welders increase their risk of injury with a lack of or by wearing inappropriate or damaged personal protective equipment (PPE) or respiratory protective equipment (RPE). And they are not only risking their own safety, but also the safety of nearby workers.
Common safety risks include:
• Cracked or damaged helmets or inappropriate filters. This can expose operators to radiation causing eye damage.
• Synthetic clothing can easily catch fire.
• Molten metal and sparks can enter pockets and cuffs or make contact with bare hands resulting in burns.
• Dust and fumes can cause serious lung diseases increasing the risk of asthma and lung cancers.
• Ensure operators are provided with and use task appropriate PPE and RPE that is in good condition.
• Ensure workers are trained on how to correctly use their PPE and RPE.
• Store PPE close to workstations where it can’t be damaged or contaminated.
Ensure operators wear:
• Task appropriate auto darkening helmets
• Fire resistant protective clothing, such as rawhide operators jacket, cotton heat vests and long cuff welding gloves/gauntlets
• Insulating gloves
• Rubber soled boots designed for welding tasks
• Securely fitting RPE where RPE is assessed as necessary.