Welding is one of the most common fabrication processes and is used extensively in commercial and industrial operations. You can see it in practically every industry including construction, shipbuilding, aviation, and automobiles. The process itself is very versatile and doesn’t require heavy machinery, which is why it’s so popular. It can also be done almost anywhere, even underwater.
It’s amazing to think that a relatively simple process has made modern life possible. When you apply heat and pressure to two or more metal parts, the areas where they touch are fused together. Because the newly-fused joint is stronger than the surrounding areas, complex shapes can be formed.
However, all that heat and electricity also pose a laundry list of risks to welders. Whether you’re a beginner or a veteran, it’s important to follow safe welding practices. Here are a few safety tips to get you started.
1. Wear the right safety gear
Any welder should learn from the beginning that safety is always their top priority. Everything else pales in importance. With that in mind, one of the most important things a welder needs to do is to wear their personal protective gear before performing any job.
For starters, leather welding gloves protect their hands from the heat and the sparks and improve your grip while welding. Fireproof clothes made of nonflammable materials protect their upper body from the heat and the UV rays.
One thing every welder needs to look out for is respiratory damage from toxic emissions and respirable particulates. Wearing a respirator protects their nose, throat, and lungs while welding. Always make sure that the area is well-ventilated. If the area is enclosed or if ventilation is limited, the respirator must have a dedicated oxygen supply to prevent suffocation.
Most importantly, a welder should always wear a proper welding helmet when performing work. An auto-darkening helmet provides instantaneous protection for the eyes, face, and neck. If a manual welding helmet is used, they might want to wear a second set of goggles underneath. Since the metal remains boiling hot immediately after welding, a piece of the weld might fly off during an inspection. The goggles protect their eyes from the projectile.
2. Stay away from electricity
Performing welding work means they are going to work with a lot of electricity, so they have to protect yourself from the constant and ever-present danger of electrical shock. The danger increases as the work becomes more complex. As a general rule: the bigger the job, the more electricity is used.
Many businesses buy or use second-hand equipment to save money. Do not do this as the equipment might be defective and more prone to breakdowns. Not only will this affect the quality of the weld, but you also put your employees at risk. If possible, only use brand-new and properly maintained equipment. There are many welders available on the market, and many of them are quite affordable. Your goal isn’t just to improve your weld quality but to prevent dangerous accidents from occurring.
3. Train your employees
You need to educate your employees about the fundamentals of welding, whether they’re a new hire or have been with your business for a long time. The welding process has undergone many changes since it was first developed in the early decades of the 20th century and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Keeping abreast of all these developments ensures that the professionals in the field are constantly up-to-date with the latest techniques and methods.
One of the best ways to learn is to hire certified experts who can then pass on their skills and knowledge to the next generation of welders. This can be done as on-the-job training or in a workshop and classroom setting. Tell your employees to ask questions and constantly practice until they’ve got the method right.
The bottom line
Many of the hallmarks of modern civilization wouldn’t be possible without the aid of welding. We wouldn’t have dams, skyscrapers, suspension bridges, and more. Welding is inexpensive, dependable, and incredibly useful, but also brings a long list of dangers.
Your employees are exposed to many hazards such as fires and explosions, burns, deadly fumes, electrical shock, radiation, and suffocation. That’s why you need to prioritize safety training and ask for formal certification where applicable before someone can wield a torch.