The art of welding is somewhat difficult to master, it requires practice like any other trade to master it. And then there are welding accidents that may occur to anyone from professionals to hobby welders.
In this article we are going to discuss how you might encounter a welding accident, what are its repercussions, and how to avoid it from happening.
Welding accidents in the workplace are more recurrent than you think. The range of accidents starts from as small as a cut and goes up to third-degree burns.
Sometimes the environment you work in affects you in some way that can cause illness in the long run
However, these accidents can be prevented from happening by following strict rules and regulations while welding.
Proper welding protection equipment viz. Helmet, leather gloves, earplugs, etc should be your first priority.
Welding Accident Causes
According to the statistics of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) roughly there are 500,000 welders, and accidents may cause serious injuries to four per thousand welders.
Cause of workplace welding accidents are :
1. Fume and Gases: Welding requires you to work in high temperatures and pressure, which leads to forming of oxides and other harmful gases that can cause serious damages to your internal respiratory system.
It is advised to the welder to wear proper breathing systems if you working on long-term projects.
2. Noise: Welders are always exposed to the loud noise of engine driven welders, grinders, etc. The intensity of these noises may go up to 85 dB to 102 dB.
Anything above 85 dB is considered harmful for humans, thus welders and other workers in the field of fabrication are suggested to use ear-plugs. These safeguard their ears from any flying metal scraps and scraps from damaging their ears.
3. Electric Shock: The most common welding accident that you might encounter if you are not careful enough is electric shocks.
Helmets and welding gloves can save you from most of the cases of electric shocks. The welders always should be aware of his/her surrounding is the ground rule to avoid them.
4. Tough Working Conditions: Welders are usually subjected to work long hours in very difficult working conditions. They are exposed to work with molten metals in awkward positions and angles.
Fires and small explosions can break out at any moment damaging their body parts. The damages are usually temporary but can be lethal if you are not alert.
5. Exposure to UV/IR/Visible Light: The electric arc in which the welders work in radiates UV (Ultraviolet) and IR(Infrared) radiations. Causing damages to eyes and skin-burns.
In rare cases, extended exposure can lead to arc-eye. Never heard about arc-eye?
It’s a condition that makes it feel like there is sand in one’s eyes. The person becomes very uncomfortable if they suffer from arc-eye. Refer to the picture below.
Proper welding safety equipment is hence very important to safeguard our eyes and optic nerves from any forms of damage.
Welders and other fabricators are an integral part of any industry, they help in a wide range of areas that are unknown to common people.
The result of this is accidents whose damages are irreversible. However such life-threatening accidents rarely occur.
The following are the most common injuries :
- Electric Shocks and Burns
- Injury to toes and fingers
- Welders Parkinson disease
- Hearing impairment
- Temporary blindness
- Breathing problems
Welding Accidents Prevention
First of all, Usage of safety equipment is the most basic yet important part of preventing welding accidents. This includes wearing a thick pair of gloves, a helmet along with earbuds, and a protective outfit overall.
Other practices which might sound silly but are effective include :
- Being aware of your surroundings, accidents can happen in form at any time.
- Wearing a respirator. This is a good practice which helps your breath without any problems which are often disregarded.
- Keeping your skin covered. As discussed earlier, welding emits UV/IV radiations which are not filtered and may cause damages to the part which come in contact with them. Usually, the skin is prone to these radiations.
- Wearing gears that are specific to welding. Glasses, Helmets, and Gloves used must be specifically made for welding and not for bike-riding.
Is Welding Worth the Risk?
Being a welder myself, I can assure you all the cases of accidents that cause permanent damages at work rarely happens.
If you are wearing proper welding safety equipments you are already 99% risk-free.
I remember the time when I was welding, I accidentally welded my pants zipper shut. I and my workmates had a good laugh talking about it later, and thus most of the time it is not that big of a deal. It might end up as another funny welding accident.
You are more likely to get sick or injured at home than at welding, and these are based on solid data and statistics.
Learning the ins and outs of the trade is the first step that you must take. Keeping your work area neat and tidy is another opinion which hugely undervalued.
With the advancement in technology, there are industrial grade air filtration system that eliminates harmful fumes and makes the work environment much safer. With a proper air filtration system, most of the risks are reduced to nil.
Does Welding Shorten Your Life?
When I was starting out, I had the exact same question in my mind. Does welding shorten your life?
And here I am after almost 2 decades of welding experience writing this blog post for you. Even though it involves harmful gases, high-intensity current, etc, No, welding does not shorten your life provided that you have followed proper welding practice which includes wearing personal protective gear and keeping the hygiene.
You may come across welding accident pictures, videos, and stories on the internet which might haunt you for life.
Accidents can happen at any workplace, welders are not the only one subjected to it and you shouldn’t be discouraged by them.
I hope, the fear you had in mind about welding accidents are now cleared. Always remember to wear safety equipment and follow proper hygienic practices, And you are good to go!