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Arc welding produces an arc that is effectively hotter than the photosphere of the sun. It contains more ultraviolet light than sunlight and creates a dangerous fume that is hazardous to the health so keeping your workplace safe is a welder’s priority.
During welding and cutting, you risk exposing yourself to harmful chemical and physical hazards. Thus, the importance of suitable protective clothing also known as personal protective equipment (PPE).
The Importance of Dark Clothing
Dark clothing should be worn while welding as dark clothes will reduce the amount of harmful rays from the ultraviolet light that can penetrate through to your skin. Equally effective, dark clothing will reduce glare that might otherwise bounce of light colored clothes. It is important to block out as much UV radiation as possible which can be achieved by wearing dark, thick and heavy clothing.
Think of wearing dark clothing as being just as important as wearing safety glasses when doing any grinding or drilling work. Welding helmets and flame retardant, dark colored protective clothing are all important personal protection items and are important in arc welding safety. These all provide critical eye and face protection from electric shock, hot metal fragments and UV radiation.
Caution: Do not wear clothes that are made from a polyester material as they have a tendency to melt and can stick to your skin causing serious burns.
Choosing Welding Clothes
When choosing your welding clothes, always look for clothes made from fire resistant materials. Leather is the best material for resisting sparks and heat however it is heavy and cumbersome and can impede your movement. Heavy wool is a great natural product because of it’s natural resistance to fire.
Bright and light clothing do not protect the body from harmful ultraviolet light and radiation rays as well as dark or black clothing. Clothing made specifically for welders and welding is designed to reduce the risk of harm from burns and radiation from welding.
Must Read: Best Welding Shirts (2020): Reviews Of Our Favorite Workwear To Use, click here to read.
Make sure to wear dark clothes that reduce the reflection of light and provide heat and fire resistance which is necessary while welding. Other clothes that should be worn include a flame-resistant apron that is made from leather which will protect you from flying sparks and also hot metal (1).
Precautions to Protect your Skin
- As this article is about dark clothing; wear dark clothing while welding. This will reduce glare and help to block UV light and other welding radiation.
- Choose clothing material that is fire retardant or fire resistant such as 100% wool; welding creates sparks or fragments of very hot metal that will easily set material on fire. Stay away from materials that can melt to your skin such as synthetic fabrics.
- Wear long pants and long sleeved shirts; cover up as much of your body as possible – the less exposed skin the better. Make sure your neck and throat is covered up and you have no exposed areas of your head.
- Wear a suitable welding helmet; welding helmets have come a long over the years and provide great protection but you need to get the right one to suit you. Invest in a good quality helmet and be thankful later.
- Try to avoid pockets and rolling sleeves; rolling your sleeves up and/or your pant legs up can create areas in your clothes that can catch and retain sparks. Likewise, pockets can potentially create a hazard by trapping sparks which could lead to burns.
- Choose appropriate footwear; your shoes are equally important to welding safety and should not be overlooked. Go for boots and boots that are high on your legs and lace up very tight to prevent any gaps.
- Consider the use of aprons; heavy leather aprons can go a long way in protecting your skin from wayward sparks and radiation. Heavy gloves are a must in protecting your hands and wrists from burns.