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MIG Welding Safety

Toxic Chemical Warning

Keeping their workplace safe is one of the goals of almost every one of the half a million welders who work in various industries in this country. The dangers of welding are well documented; The Department of Labor estimates that four out of every thousand welders will be fatally injured over the course of their careers. Because of this danger, there are numerous safety regulations in place to help protect welders and those around them. MIG welders are a particularly dangerous type of welding equipment which warrants specific safety tips.

There are five major dangers when MIG welding: fire, explosions, "arc eye", UV exposure, and toxic chemical exposure. Long sleeved protective clothing, eye protection, a welder's cap, UV shields, dry chemical fire extinguishers, exhaust fans, proper ventilation, and vapor masks all can significantly diminish these dangers.

Explosions and fire are always a danger with welding equipment, and MIG welders are no exception. Last year in Michigan a welding supply company north of Detroit had their roof collapse after multiple explosions caused a fire in their building. Although no one was injured, the loss of property was extensive. Just a few weeks ago, another series of explosions destroyed a welding company in Philadelphia and injured several people. To protect your workspace against fires and explosions the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends keeping a dry chemical fire extinguisher on hand. Keeping your work area cleared of all flammable items is also suggested. Many explosions are caused by the gas or oxygen regulator tanks that are part of welders, so extreme care and awareness should be taken when dealing with the tanks.

Toxic chemical exposure is another hazard that welder's face on a daily basis. It is even possible for a welder to "drown" if chemicals build up to the proper density. Exhaust fans and vapor masks help protect a welder, but proper ventilation is key to ensuring his safety. MIG welders in particular give off ozone and chromium; two very toxic substances.

"Arc eye" is when a welder's cornea or retina is burned by the extremely bright light emitted by a MIG welder. It causes pain, inflammation, and in some cases, blindness. This is why eye protection is so vital for a welder. A welder's cap is necessary to cut down on the reflective glare of the light, since even the reflection can cause arc eye. UV rays are also a large part of a MIG welder's light so protective clothing must be worn to keep from getting sun burned. Welding shields can protect bystanders from the UV rays.

Written by Courtney Shipe

Ed C.


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