Friday, September 18, 2015

Welding Health Hazards and Prevention That Your Welders Must Know About (Part 1)

Welding may be a lucrative job, but it comes with health hazards that your welders must familiarize with and have ways to minimize their exposure to those dangers. By so doing, they will enjoy their work more.

See also:
Welding Health Hazards and Prevention That Your Welders Must Know About (Part 2)

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Welding may be a lucrative job, but when it comes to welding health and safety, welding involves heat, smoke, gas, and tiny metal particles that pervade the air that your welders breathe.

In case you are interested in:

The welding fume and hot cutting processes is a varied mix of very fine particles and air-borne gases that can cause health problems if inhaled. Harmful gases present in the fume can be Nitrous Oxide (N₂O), Carbon Dioxide (CO₂), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Argon (Ar), Helium (He), and Ozone (O₃).

Top 4 occupational health hazards of welding are respiratory illnesses, vibration issues, noise related problems, and musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). Ensure your welders seize those risks and how to prevent them. The ensured health and safety is crucial in motivating and securing your workers. 

You may be concerned about:

1. Respiratory illnesses

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Welding respiratory protection
Respiratory problems include pneumonia, occupational asthma, cancers, metal fume fever, irritation of throat and lungs, temporarily reduced lung function.

Pneumonia often results from welders prone to the lung infection. Whilst advanced antibiotics cure the infection, severe cases can induce dozens of welders being hospitalized each year. 

Though asthma is not really caused by welding fume, welders are recommended to protect themselves and control welding fume to the lowest levels as possible.

For cancers problems, welding fume, especially stainless steel welding, is classified as potentially carcinogenic to humans. 

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Welding fume is internationally classified as potentially carcinogenic to humans.
Metal fume fever has flue like symptoms. For example, after inhaling the gas byproduct of the welding process, welders can experience headache, nausea, runny nose, fever, and even chills. Whilst those symptoms often go away in one day or two, the health experts warn that prolonged unprotected exposure to those fumes, and inhalation of very tiny metal particles, may cause long-term fatal illnesses.

Unfortunately, it is not true to drink milk before welding to prevent getting metal fume fever. 

Also, gases and fine particles of welding fume can induce irritation of throat and lungs (i.e dryness of throat, tickling coughing, or tight chest). Ozone is a specific cause of this problem when Tig welding aluminum and stainless steels. Fluid on the lungs can eventuate in case of extreme exposure to ozone. 

Temporarily reduced lung function can occur due to prolonged exposure to welding fume. Fortunately, the effects aren’t permanent. 

Importantly, your welders are aware of those risks, and to prevent them, they should grasp tightly occupational safety standards. Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) should be made available to them. Likewise, a working environment in compliance with the government’s occupational safety standards should be provided to the welders.

Here are some safety suggestions that can help minimize the health risks that your welders face:

Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) can help address the problem of fume. It is made expressly for welders. Disposable face masks can protect short jobs. Like reusable respirators, they should be fit tested on individuals because one type of mask doesn’t fit all. The reusable respirators should be monthly inspected, and records must be kept. Meanwhile, the battery powered filtering welding helmet is more expensive. This type of equipment can be long lasting if it is well looked after, and may be a cost-effective option in the long run.

Make sure your welders wear PPEs, and wear them properly. It will be counter-productive to put on PPE but fail to wear it comfortably or conveniently. PPEs also come with the instructions on how to wear them properly. Those instructions should be studied carefully, and carried out by the welder. 

Always ensure your welders work in a well-ventilated place. Otherwise, they will expose higher risk of inhaling harmful fumes and gases. Working in a poorly-ventilated area also lowers oxygen levels in the air, which can induce asphyxiation and cause death in turn.

Take the best welding practices. Your welders should know which technique is the best for welding a certain type of metal, and which techniques are as effective yet safer regarding the types and volumes of the emitted gases and fumes. 

Avoid welding on painted metal. The extra fumes that melting paint can produce will add more danger to the already-perilous substances that your welders are exposed to while welding.

Encourage your welders to change their working position from time to time. By adjusting their position whilst welding, they help themselves avoid inhaling the dangerous mix of particles and gas.

Maintain a clean, well-organized working area to minimize injuries and work-related dangers.

Facilitate your welders attending work safety training seminars. Knowledge can protect them from more health hazards. 

Provide medical checks-up for welders.

Welders need shower and change into new clothes before they head home and interact with other people, especially their family. Their work clothes and shoes may carry toxic chemicals to their car, and even their home, accidentally putting their family and friends in danger.


2 comments:

  1. Working in open areas with lots of ventilation is key when welding and I like how you point that out. I had a cousin who once forgot to open any windows while welding and he ended up passing out, luckily he dropped the torch, so nothing caught on fire or took damage. I haven't done much welding myself, but my cousin's story is enough for me to always remember how important ventilation is in welding. http://www.greatlakesweldingandfab.com

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