Welding safety involves more than a helmet, gloves, and flame resistant clothing. The fumes produced while welding can be extremely harmful after continuous exposure. While good ventilation and a fume extraction system can help, several practices and products can guard your health and productivity, keeping you safe and on task. Every worker should have access to government authorized, comprehensive workplace and material safety standards and practices. Any tips in this blog post are not a substitute for official safety documents.
Developing a Safety Plan for Welding
Generally speaking, a safety plan for your welding shop should include all of the safety gear, respirators, ventilation systems, and first aid supplies available to workers. In addition, all staff should be trained in selecting their materials and gases, as well as setting up safe workplaces that have appropriate air flow. Should an emergency arise, staff should be trained in emergency procedures and treatments in order to avoid further injuries or risks.
The Risks of Welding Fumes
If you are exposed to welding fumes, you could, at the very least, experience eye, nose, and throat irritation, as well as dizziness and nausea. Longer term exposure to welding fumes can lead to many serious health problems that include lung damage, cancer, stomach ulcers, kidney damage, and nervous system damage.
In addition, certain gases and metals present their own health concerns. Long term exposure to manganese has been linked to Parkinson’s-like symptoms, while helium, argon, and carbon dioxide can create health hazards by displacing oxygen and leading to suffocation when welding in a confined space. While good ventilation is essential for any welding project, there are several other steps that are essential for welding safety.
Knowing and Cleaning Your Metals
Certain metals, electrodes, and gases can form particularly toxic reactions during the welding process. Before you weld with a new material or electrode, look up how they react together.
Beyond the metals and electrodes themselves, metals can have chemicals or oxides that need to be removed before welding with sand paper, a grinder, or a cleaning solution. Failing to properly clean your metal could lead to toxic fumes while welding.
Respirator Options for Welding Safety
For comprehensive protection while welding, check out the 3M respirators that connect directly to a Speedglas welding helmet. When you need a wide field of vision from a Speedglas helmet, this compact, lightweight system provides long term comfort and protection. Of course these systems are top of the line respirators that provide the best in comfort and safety, but also come at a premium price. There are plenty of options out there for all situations and budgets.
The Miller LPR-100 Half Mask Respirator is a simple, cost-effective option that doesn’t cover your eyes but provides effective filtering of 99.97% of airborne particles and oil aerosols that could come from welding. With its low profile design, you’ll have both optimal visibility and an easy fit with a welding helmet, offering both comfort and effectiveness.
If you’re concerned about protecting your eyes while wearing a basic respirator system, check out the 3M Facepiece Respirator. It’s extremely easy to wear, with six adjustable straps, a double-flange face seal, and large inhalation and exhalation valves for easier breathing.
Learn More about Respirators and Welding Safety
The fumes caused from welding can prose some of the most serious health threats in your shop. Don’t rely on half-measures for your personal safety. Check out the proven safety gear at Baker’s Gas and Welding today for respirators in all shapes, sizes, and fits.