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Welding Safety Procedures for all Employees Who Weld

Welding, cutting, and brazing are occupations that take place in all types of industries. Welders work in general industry, in shipyards, marine terminals, and in construction. In addition to a variety of different environments, there are a large number of welding types: Arc, flux-cored arc (FCAW), metal inert gas (MIG), Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG), Stick, and others. Welding is an inherently hazardous task involving open flames, enclosed environments, and awkward or uncomfortable positions. This makes welding safety an important part of industry procedure.

According to The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, half a million workers perform welding, brazing and cutting activities every year in the United States. Of these, four in every thousand are at risk of suffering a fatal workplace injury over the course of a lifetime. Some of the causes of welding accidents are:

  • Electrical shock – This is one of the most common types of accident faced by welders who are handling metal parts that have a voltage between them.
  • Exposure to fumes and gases – Welders are constantly exposed to toxic fumes and gases. Not only can they cause permanent lung problems, they can also profoundly affect the brain.

Manganese, for example, is ubiquitous. Most fumes produced in the welding process contain small amounts of the metal. While manganese is an essential nutrient, when it is inhaled it can become concentrated in the liver, lungs, kidney, and CNS. Male welders who are exposed to this toxin experience an elevated risk of fertility problems. When it accumulates in the globus pallidus, a region of the brain involved in the control of movement, welders can develop Parkinson-like symptoms, including tremors, muscle rigidity, slowness of movement, and poor balance. This phenomenon is known as Welding Parkinsonism, or manganism.

Other neurological effects of manganese include altered reaction time, diminished hand-eye coordination, and mood and memory problems.

  • Excessive noise – Regular exposure to noise levels of around 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing loss. Flying debris can find its way into the ear canal and cause injury and irreversible damage.

Key Concepts in Welding Safety

Adhering to three simple principles can prevent most accidents in the welding environment. Wearing protective clothing and equipment; checking equipment frequently to maintain it in optimum condition; and removing hazardous material from the welding area.

Protective clothing should provide adequate protection from weld spatter, arc radiation, and flying sparks, while also allowing the operator to move around freely. Clothing should be made of either wool or cotton for maximum durability. Synthetics may melt when exposed to high temperatures.

Training for Welding Safety

Your welding workforce will have come to you from a variety of different backgrounds with knowledge and experience in different sectors and techniques of welding practices. Some will know more about metallurgy and the basic properties of metals. Including, how welding processes affect their structure and the causes of weld failure and distortion and how to prevent and control these problems. Others will have good technical skills in one or more welding techniques, but may not have a deep understanding of metal structure, or how to repair defective welds. Providing training ensures that your workforce is all up to the same high standard and that they speak the same language.

Why and How to Train Your Staff in Welding Safety

OSHA explicitly requires employees to train their workers in the health and safety aspects of their jobs. Safety training can also save your company money in the long term in the form of lower accident rates and employee down time.

Training your employees to join metals together without injuring themselves or their colleagues need not be complicated or expensive. One way of achieving your objective is to invite a professional training company to come in and present a seminar entitled, Welding principles and Procedures. For the sake of providing a meeting space, projection facilities, and possibly a lab with portable workstations, you fulfill your legal training requirements and safe money.

NTT delivers on-site, hands-on training in industrial skills. Our fact-packed, four-day seminar will provide your workforce with:

  • Understanding and ability to perform the basics of a range of welding techniques.
  • Ability to incorporate welding safety techniques and the principles of weld inspection into their everyday working practices.

This course is aimed at welding mechanics, stationary engineers, plant & facility maintenance technicians, mechanics, building engineers, building managers & superintendents, owners, and managers. Topics covered include basic metallurgy, principles of weld inspection, welding process applications, and troubleshooting. All course material is in accordance with the American Welding Society. If this sounds like something that you would be interested in, contact us directly for more information.

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