The nature of the job of a welder exposes him to constant risks. Professional welders are susceptible to several threats every minute they spend on the job.
Sparks, ultraviolet and infrared light, molten metal, and noxious fumes are some of the hazards that welders deal with on the job daily. As such, welders are encouraged to use personal protective equipment (PPE) every time.
This article discusses the reasons why welders should use safety equipment.
To Protect the Head
The head houses the brain and three other sense organs. Injuries to the head can result in dire consequences; hence it should be protected whenever there’s a possible risk.
Unlike other jobs requiring head protection such as construction, the primary potential hazards to the head are heat, flames, sparks, and pieces of molten metal.
Noxious fumes of zinc and manganese produced by the welding equipment are toxic. They can lead to symptoms akin to Parkinson’s disease, damage the lungs and central nervous system, and may lead to permanent loss of hearing. Welders are also at risk of permanent blindness due to bright lights from welding arcs.
Helmets, glasses, and respirators are safety equipment for head protection.
- Welding Helmets
A welding helmet is as essential to welding as the welding machine and torch. Welding helmets protect the head, face, and hair from heat. Also, the powerful radiation resulting from the arc can quickly cause damage to the skin. Welding helmets should be sturdy and cover all of the face and head of the welder. Contemporary welding helmets have auto-darkening lenses that eliminate the need to flip the visor up and down in between welds and make it easier to produce better quality welds.
Glasses do not offer as much protection as helmets. Still, spectacles can prove useful for simple jobs.
To Protect the Torso and Neck
While the neck and torso do not get involved in the welding process, these body parts are still at risk of getting hit by flying scrap metal and sparks, which may burn the welder or cause a fire. Jackets, aprons, and bibs are the safety equipment for the neck and torso.
For the torso, aprons offer sufficient protective coverage. An advantage of using an apron is that it extends to the legs. Aprons are of sturdier material than welding jackets, and the open back makes it less restrictive. Bibs cover part of the neck and the entire clavicle.
Jackets are one-piece PPE that cover the arms, shoulders, neck, and back. Welding jackets come in a variety of materials, from fireproof wool to leather. The choice of material to use depends on the temperature of the Workspace. The best way to wear welding jackets is with gloves and other personal protective equipment like bibs.
To Protect the Hands and Arms
In welding like most blue-collar jobs, there is extensive use of the hands to get work done. Welders are at risk of having their hands burned by sparks and molten metal, or cut by flying scrap metal or cutting tools. The safety equipment for protecting the arms and hands are gloves and welding sleeves.
1 in 3 workplace injuries involves fingers or hands. Gloves are, therefore, one of the essential safety equipment. Welding gloves should be sturdy and fireproof; at the same time, they should not impair the movement of the fingers and hand.
- Welding Sleeves
Welding sleeves are used in conjunction with a prince and gloves to cover the arms. The sleeves are of durable, fireproof fabric that extends from the wrist to the shoulders. A variation of the welding sleeve called welding gauntlet has built-in glove portions. Welding sleeves are suitable for jobs requiring greater arm mobility seeing as they do not restrict the shoulders.
To Protect the Lower Limbs (Legs and Feet)
When it comes to personal protective equipment, the legs and feet often get overlooked, this should not be the case. The lower limbs are at significant risk of getting hit by falling pieces of metal during weld-cut jobs, and they also receive the bulk of sparks and flames during the welding process. Hammers and other tools sometimes fall from heights and strike the toes. Safety equipment for the legs and feet are knee pads, boots, and welding chaps.
- Knee Pads
Welding often requires the welder to be in kneeling positions. Knee Pads help to protect the knees in cases where the surface is rough. Knee pads have a tough exterior to withstand coarse surfaces, and a cushioned interior to make extended kneeling periods comfortable.
Boots, along with gloves, are perhaps the most well-known and used PPE. To protect the feet from flames and sparks, then it is best to use leather welding boots. The boots should be comfortable, and sturdy enough not to get pierced by any sharp objects lying about the workshop floor and should have steel caps to protect the toes from falling objects.
- Welding Chaps
Welding chaps cover the legs and feet of the welder to help the wearer avoid being burned or injured. The best welding chaps are sturdy suede and leather. Welding chaps are of two styles; pant style, and full coverall style. The coverall style wedding chaps can also serve as an apron.
There are a host of dangers and risks posed in the workplace. It is the welder’s responsibility and best interest, not to eschew the use of PPE, whether great or small, while at work.
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