Whether you’re doing stainless steel welding or fabrication of other forms of metal, there are welding safety practices that you should follow. As a welder, you are exposed to hazards that can endanger your life. You may be working for a small metal fabricator, a multinational construction firm or a welding-centric company and find the safety guidelines we’ve listed here useful. Take a look at these tips so that you can improve welding safety in your work place.
1) Study the Manual
When it comes to operating the equipment, it is very important that you carefully read, study and follow the manual. All labourers should familiarise themselves with the contents of the manual so they can maximise the welding equipment’s potential. Keep in mind that you can always contact the manufacturer and ask for a replacement in the event of losing the manual. There are also downloadable manuals online so make sure you do your research.
2) Suit Up
Do not expose your skin to the harmful and damaging infrared and ultraviolet rays coming from the welding machine. Also, remember that when you leave pockets, shirts or pant cuffs unbuttoned, they may catch sparks and smoulder your skin. Protect your skin and remember to button cuffs, shirts and front pockets.
3) Gear Up
Welders shouldn’t wear short-sleeved shirts or shorts within the work area. Regardless of how short or long you’d use the welding machine, you should still wear appropriate safety gear, including gloves, protective clothing and gloves.
Remember to wear flame-resistant clothing like a welding jacket or a shirt with tightly woven material as well as denim pants. If you’re complaining about the heaviness and thickness of welding jackets, then look for manufacturers of lightweight, flame-resistant clothing.
You do not have to wear a generic pair of gloves. When you go online, you will find ergonomically designed gloves with curved fingers, ideal for certain welding processes. When it comes to shoes, it is advisable to wear boots or high-top leather shoes for optimum foot protection. Remember that the legs of your pants should go over your shoes. Moreover, avoid wearing cloth or tennis shoes. When you ignore this advice, your shoes will smoulder and you’ll feel a burning sensation.
4) Have Proper Ventilation
It can be hazardous to your health if constantly breathe in the smoke and fumes coming from the welding process. If you’re welding inside a confined space, breathable air may be replaced by accumulated toxic fumes or shielding gases. Remember to mount an exhaust hood so you can have proper ventilation in the space, leaving the toxic fumes out and the breathable air in.
5) Protect your Eyes
Have you experienced an ‘arc flash’? It’s a painful condition caused by exposing your eyes to a welding arc’s rays. At times, it appears hours after the exposure which would be too late for you to realise that you need protective eyewear.
Remember to wear a helmet that is properly fitted with appropriate filter shade for your eyes. Also, keep in mind that under the helmet, you should also wear safety glasses that come with ear protection and side shields. Whether you’re doing stainless steel welding or just simply watching, wearing a protective helmet is a must.
6) Prevent Stress Related Injuries
Auto-darkening helmets are a better option over traditional fixed helmets. This is mainly because the former is typically lighter which allows it to lessen neck fatigue. Welders won’t have to snap their head just to drop the helmet’s hood down.
Aside from that having an auto-darkening function saves you, the welder, several seconds between welds. These seconds quickly accumulate to several minutes when you’re working on bigger metal fabrication jobs. By saving these minutes, you can have a faster turnaround time which is generally profitable for the business.
7) Have an Organised Welding Workspace
Clearly label each piece of welding equipment and have a designated place for them. Remember that the welding workspace should only contain equipment and tools that the welder uses. There shouldn’t be anything else in there. Opt for a welding table that has a scissors mechanism, allowing you to adjust the height, depending on the application. In this way, you won’t have to switch from one table to another.
8) Increase Efficiency by Using Wire Feeders that are Mounted with Booms
If you have a high-production welding station, it would be advisable if you use wire feeders that are mounted with booms. Doing so will increase the efficiency, comfort and flexibility of your station. Place the drive assembly at the boom’s end and the wire feeder controls at the 12- or 16-ft. boom’s base.
With this option, you can rotate the boom at 360 degrees. You can also move it up and down at 60 degrees, providing you with a work area that’s around 24 to 32 ft. in diameter. Once you set the boom in its position, it will be held in place by a counterbalance.
9) As Much as Possible, Use Fixturing
Whenever possible, use fixturing. You can promote safety since fixturing eliminates the need for a hoist and chain when flipping the component. Consequently, you are reducing sources for potential dangers.
10) Use Incentives for Compliance Until Welders Form a Habit of Safety
When bosses roll out programs, employees tend to think of the project as an activity that will only last for a few months and then fade away. When it comes to promoting welding safety, company owners should implement a different approach.
Try to incorporate these guidelines into the welders’ daily work activities. Whenever they comply, give them incentives for motivation. For added hype, you can also have a weekly point system and at the end of the week or month, you can reward the employee with the most points.
If rewarding employees is not your cup of tea, then try the ‘stick’ approach in the ‘carrot and stick’ technique. Implement consequences for safety violators so that they will know how strict you are with the guidelines. Do not think of this as a harsh way of treating employees. It is only a way to teach them discipline and responsibility. Remember that in the long run, they are the ones that will benefit most out of your safety guidelines.