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It’s impossible to conceive of buildings, vehicles, bridges, vehicles, and machinery without welding involved. Joining metals together has been an integral part of the industrial revolution, and the craft isn’t going away anytime soon.
The only problem with welding is the hazards that come with it. It’s not one of the safest things to do. That’s why people who do it wear different sorts of protective gear and follow regulations to avoid accidents as much as possible. There are a lot of things that can go wrong. You’ve heard of cases of electric shock, burns, and visual impairment among welders. Many of these accidents happen while someone’s welding. Hence, it’s crucial that you follow safety precautions.
Here are some of the things you shouldn’t do while welding.
1. Don’t inhale the fumes.
Welding fumes aren’t like the fragrant smoke you get when you’re grilling meat for dinner. Depending on the base metal you’re working on and the composition of the rod, you can get oxides of aluminium, antimony, arsenic, cadmium, cobalt, lead, manganese, or tin. You’re also at risk of nitric oxide, carbon monoxide, phosgene, and hydrogen fluoride exposure.
Breathing in fumes that contain these toxic substances can cause nasal and throat irritation as well as dizziness. If you experience weird symptoms while welding, you need to stop and go to an open space for fresh air. The last thing you need to do is go on and prolong your exposure to gases that will lead to permanent lung damage or cancer. Keep in mind that exposure to metal fumes can damage other vital organs. If you’re exposed to manganese fume, you can develop Parkinsonism. On the other hand, shielding gases like argon and carbon dioxide can displace oxygen in the air and cause asphyxiation.
Make sure your ventilation system is working. In some cases, you will have to wear a breathing apparatus to avoid inhaling toxic fumes and gases (1).
2. Don’t weld without appropriate personal protective gear.
Welding exposes you to heat, UV radiation, fumes, sparks and spatter, and electricity. Many welders have suffered from burns, eye inflammation, nasal irritation, lung damage, and electrocution while working. These are why OSHA and AWS strongly recommend wearing protective equipment from head to toe.
The problem with a lot of welders, especially the experienced ones, is they slack off on precautions. In most cases, you need a welding cap, a welding helmet with the appropriate lens shade, a flame-resistant shirt, a pair of dry gloves, welding chaps, and boots. You may need extra protection for heavy-duty, spatter-heavy types of welding.
You certainly don’t want to wear short sleeves, especially if you’re doing MIG or stick welding, unless you have no problem getting hot spatter on your forearms. Also, if you have open pockets while welding, these open spaces can capture hot metal fragments and burn your shirt.
One of the things you shouldn’t do when welding is dismiss ear protection. Welding generates noise above 85 decibels, and some activities like arc cutting and gouging and plasma cutting generate noises that range from 90 decibels to 120 decibels. Prolonged exposure to these noises leads to hearing loss.
3. Don’t start a fire!
Fire hazards associated with welding cannot be overemphasized. The welding arc or flame, the flying sparks, and the electrical connections have the potential to cause fire. Avoiding fire includes inspecting your electrical connections, your machine, the leads, electrodes, and hoses. Make sure they’re intact and properly installed or connected. Replace worn cables or hoses.
A common mistake welders do is weld with combustible materials lying around. This is a dangerous situation, especially if you’re doing stick welding, which is notorious for producing a lot of sparks. Glowing metal fragments can land on these materials and set them on fire. Don’t keep clothes, paper, and flammable liquids near your welding space.
Decluttering your workspace is another way to minimize fire hazards. Most of us don’t mind the clutter, but when you find combustible materials anywhere near your welding table, you should get rid of them.
Hoses and cables, especially when defective or poorly connected, can be culprits of fires too. Make sure they’re not anywhere near heat sources lest their insulation break down.
Keeping a fire extinguisher handy should give you some peace of mind. If not smothered right away, a small fire can grow into a giant blaze in this environment.
4. Don’t use incorrect shielding gas mixture.
The correct shielding gas mixture helps ensure high quality weld and reduce spatter, thereby reducing welding costs and reducing the need for cleanup. For MIG welding, carbon dioxide is the main shielding gas, and it can be used alone for deep weld penetration. The disadvantage of using pure CO2 is it produces unstable arc and more spatter. Hence, it’s usually mixed with argon, usually at 85-15 to 75-25 argon to CO2 ratios.
For MIG and TIG welding, the quality of the shielding gas affects the quality of the weld. Buy shielding gas only from trustworthy distributors, and make sure it meets quality standards and doesn’t have contaminants.
When it comes to shielding, the correct flow rate is crucial to the quality of the weld beads. Too much gas flow contaminates the weld, and too little flow leads to defective welds. Also, when doing MIG or TIG welding, work in environments without drafts, which disturb the flow of the shielding gas and the weld pool.
This list can go on, but the things mentioned here are possibly the most important reminders. You want to stay safe while welding and be certain your welds are good.
Welding is one of the most important industrial jobs and one of the most hazardous. Erring on the side of caution is a smart way to ensure quality welds without sacrificing safety. There are different ways you can hurt yourself, hurt your weld, and hurt your job along the way. Proper welding includes taking the necessary precautions and being mindful while working.
Welders for Home Use
A great starting point if you are beginning your welding journey is to learn what the best Welders for Home Use are. We have written a great article that explores the best brands and covers a wide range of price options.