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Oxyfuel Welding Safety

Oxyfuel Welding

Oxyfuel welding is a popular form of welding that is in use in many areas. It can also be a very dangerous form of welding. Mixing the wrong gases can lead to serious consequences such as explosions, while fire is always a risk. There are many safety concerns that should be addressed when doing oxyfuel welding.

Torches and regulators are very sensitive. They should never be experimented with. This is something that some experienced welders and many new ones will do, in order to see if they can get better or different results. It is also something that can lead to serious injury. Lubricants should never be used on the regulators or on the tanks.

Cylinders can be dangerous. Oxygen regulators should always be used with oxygen tanks, and never substituted for a regulator on an acetylene cylinder. It is important to place the cylinder within easy reach while working so that the valves can be reached quickly if needed, but not so close that heat from the welding arc can reach the cylinder and possibly ignite it. Always use the cylinders in the order that they are received in. Empty cylinders should be marked with "MT" and stored in a separate area from full cylinders. If you see a cylinder that has compressed gas and is not painted the regulation Army olive drab, it belongs to a commercial company. Another safety concern with cylinders is that some will try to use them for purposes they are not intended for, such as supports or rollers. Use cylinders only for their intended purposes.

There is a certain technique to follow when lighting torches in order to do so safely. First, open the acetylene cylinder valve, then the acetylene torch valve a 1/4 turn. Screw the acetylene regulator in and adjust the valve handle to the working pressure. Turn off the acetylene torch valve to purge the line and slowly open the oxygen cylinder valve entirely. Open the oxygen torch valve 1/4 turn and screw in the oxygen regulator, adjusting to working pressure. Turn off the oxygen torch valve to clear that line and open the acetylene torch valve 1/4 turn and use a lighter to light it. Now open the oxygen torch valve 1/4 turn and adjust to a neutral flame. Make sure to use a lighting device that is specially provided or a friction type lighter only when lighting the torch.

There is also a certain procedure to safely shut off the torch. Close the valves in this order: first the acetylene torch valve then the oxygen torch valve. Next close the acetylene cylinder valve and then the oxygen cylinder valve. Now open the torch acetylene and oxygen valves in order to release the pressure in the hose and regulator. Back off the regulator adjusting valve until there is no spring tension left and close the torch valves.

Always remember to wear the proper protective gear. Welders often suffer burns and eye injuries while working because they do not wear the right gear. This is especially true of those who have a welding workshop at home because they do not always see the need to wear the gear at home, especially since it is often hot, heavy, and uncomfortable. Burns can be severe and the eyes can be damaged, sometimes permanently, from the light of the welding arc. Flameproof clothing and welding helmets and goggles are always necessary no matter where the welding job is being done or how quickly it will be finished.

Welding is a rewarding career in any form, yet it can also be a dangerous one. Remember to always follow the proper safety procedures in order to ensure that the job is done safely and that all welders and their assistants are not injured in any way.

Ed C.


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