Friday, July 17, 2015

5 Key Steps towards Best Welding Environment

For many reasons, it is important to achieve optimal welding environment. Those 5 steps can help you with that environment attainment.

The key to attract and retain skilled, experienced welders is to develop a safe and compliant working environment, and weld fume management is the crucial part of this process. Regulations specified by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) must be obeyed for compliance guarantee.

Hierarchy of Controls (OSHA) is the tool that enterprises can leverage to remove or mitigate work hazards. This hierarchy sketches out steps that employers should take to conform to the environmental regulations and enhance worker safety.

Below discusses 5 important steps that a company should take to strengthen its welding operations via appropriate weld fume management.

1. Be aware of the regulations

Regarding weld fume exposure, each country, region, state may include varying levels of enforcement or requirement. Clearly, any improvement process starts with the step of knowing the regulations applied in your area.

Make sure to review facilities with different operations spanning different geographic regions. There may be different regulations relying on their location.

Consult national, regional, or state agencies in your area to decide applicable regulations. 

2. Implement a site evaluation

Before carrying out any weld fume management controls, importantly implement air sampling and a comprehensive site evaluation to seize the levels and types of contaminants in the welding environment and the whole facility. As the welding environment is varied, an evaluation by a competent industrial hygienist can aid in the proper course-of-action determination.

Aside from considering the direct welding operations, take care of the entire environment because fumes produced by the welding process may not confine to a certain area. Figuring exposure levels in different areas throughout the facility will help create the most thorough weld fume management plan.

3. Determine the proper fume management system

The Hierarchy of Controls (OSHA) includes the first step of finding ways to handle weld fume exposure through modifying or substituting the process, before it happens. Thus, companies should make first consideration whether it is feasible to change the shielding gas, use low manganese filter metals, or change the weld transfer method.

In case process modification or substitution approaches aren’t feasible or fail to ease the levels of weld fume exposure, there are still 3 remaining steps clarified in the Hierarchy of Controls to ponder – those are, engineering controls, work practice controls, personal protective equipment (PPE).

4. Appropriate training

Once a proper fume management system is chosen, appropriate operator training is absolutely important to get intended compliance.

Employees must grasp any risks present in their working place, why it is necessary to safeguard from those risks, available products for their best protection, and how to properly use those products. You can carry out many controls and systems though, if your employees fail to use them properly, it is hard to attain the desired results.

Also, employee training includes understanding how to properly maintain and care about the fume equipment. For example, you may make fume extraction system maintenance by regularly cleaning or changing filters to ensure the system operation at its fullest capacity.  

Inspecting, maintaining and properly storing the respirator are also significant to help with a full protection of the welder. Include developing a filter change schedule  in your written respiratory protection program.

5. Evaluation and Retesting

Ok, once all the controls as well as equipment are well taken care, conducting air sampling again is important to verify everything is under planned operation. Levels of fume should be retested whenever there is an alternation in the working place – for example, changes in the production process, equipment, raw materials, work practices, personnel, or control methods employed.

Weld fume management is the continuous process as far as the working place conditions and regulations alter. Periodically reevaluating and retesting the air quality of the facility can decide whether the system is still keeping up with compliance.

OSHA includes regulations related to the essential frequency of retesting as the levels of exposure are found to be within a specific range. Then it’s also important to known those requirements.

If you are having respiratory protection in use, you must train and fit test operators annually, or sooner in the event there is an alternation to the workforce or environment, and document that process.


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