SAFETY FOR WELDERS
Safety should be the first consideration when beginning any Trade. Welding is an Industrial trade and as such has many hazards that can cause injury if the proper safety guidelines are not followed.
In addition to the safety guidelines for welding training there are many safety rules that apply to the welding field in general and to the particular company you will work for. Students and employees should continue to take an active interest in safety throughout their careers.
CLOTHING FOR WELDING
Since welding produces intense heat and hot sparks that may cause serious burns, it is important to wear the proper work clothes. The following describes the type of clothing appropriate for welding operations.
Shirts should be made of thick heavy materials such as heavy cotton or denim that is not easily burned.
The shirts must be long sleeved and should not have pockets unless they have button flaps on them. Open pockets may trap hot sparks or globules of hot metal that could burn the skin.
The shirt should not have frayed edges that sparks from welding can easily ignite.
The work shirt should not have any torn areas that allow hot sparks to penetrate.
Matches, lighters, or paper materials should never be carried in shirt or pants pockets when welding.
The pants should be close fitting and made of a heavy material such as work jeans. Overalls are appropriate if other clothing is worn under them.
The pants should be long enough to cover the top of the boots and have no cuffs that may trap sparks or hot slag.
Like the shirts the pants should have no frayed edges or torn areas in them.
It is advisable not to have metal keys or other devices dangling from the pants that could arc against the work surface.
High top leather boots are required for welding and general shop use. Canvas boots or dress shoes should not be worn.
The boots should fasten all the way up to prevent sparks falling into them. Leather laces that will not easily burn or smolder should be used.
Wear heavy work socks not nylon or thinner socks for added protection against sparks.
Safety boots with steel toe caps are advisable for welding shops and work to protect the feet.
Spats or leggings are leather pieces that fit over the top of the boot to prevent sparks falling into the boots and are available at welding supply stores.
A cap or some form of head covering should be used for welding, especially in other than the flat position. The cap must be compatible with the welding head gear called the welding helmet. Welder’s caps or welders beanies (cap with no peaks) are available from welding supply stores.
WELDERS UNIFORM FOR DELTA SCHOOL OF TRADES
Students or welders at the School need to have the proper welding protection equipment in addition to wearing the proper welding work clothes.
The protection equipment is used to safely view the arc and make the practice welds at the school. It is the same type of personal equipment all welders use on the job.
The Welding Uniform is the individuals’ choice of manufacturers and styles, for the following items:
1. THE WELDING HELMET
(WITH SUPPLY OF LENSES)
2. LEATHER WELDING GLOVES
3. LEATHER JACKET
OR CAPE SLEEVES AND BIB
4. SAFETY GLASSES
5. WELDING CAP
6. SLAG (CHIPPING) HAMMER
7. WIRE BRUSH
1. THE WELDING HELMET
The welding helmet is designed to protect the welders face and head from the ultraviolet and infrared rays of the welding arc, while allowing the welder to view the molten weld pool or puddle.
There are a variety of welding helmets and styles available, among them are the flip front, the wide lens, and the auto-darkening lens.
The flip front allows the welder to view the weld area through a clear lens, while still wearing the helmet, to safely slag the work or use a grinder.
The wide lens helmet offers a wider view of the weld area.
(Approximately 4 X 5 instead of 2 X 4) A flip front model of the wide lens helmet is also available.
The Auto darkening helmets have a lens that is clear to allow the welder to see the joint before striking the arc. As soon as the welder strikes the arc, the lens darkens to the normal view of the welding puddle.
The auto darkening lenses are very useful for; production welding where small
welds can be made without constantly lifting the hood; for precise restarting of the weld; for striking the arc without hitting the surrounding area or other parts; for grinding and oxy-fuel cutting.
Auto darkening lenses may also be purchased to fit into a standard helmet. The auto darkening style of helmet is a lot more expensive than the standard welding helmet and is not essential for use at the school.
The welding helmet usually comes with a filter plate (dark plate) and a clear lens on the outer side. The filter lens should be shade number 10 for most welding. Check the documentation that comes with the helmet for information about the other lens shades that are available.
If you use a second clear lens on the inside of the helmet it protects the filter plate when the helmet is laid down.
It is critical to clean welding lenses daily and change the outer lens when it gets pitted or scratched, about weekly at the school. If the inner clear lens is in good condition simply swap it for the front clear lens and place a new lens on the inside.
The dark filter plate, if protected by the cheaper clear lenses should not need to be changed.
Filter lenses and clear lenses are available as plastic or glass. I prefer a Glass filter lens for better viewing and plastic clear lens.
Make sure you have an ample supply of clear lenses.
2. LEATHER WELDING GLOVES
The welding gloves required for welding are the gauntlet type gloves that cover the forearms. Work gloves are not appropriate for arc welding.
Lightweight gloves designed for TIG (Healy Arc) give the welder a better feel for manipulating the TIG torch and adding filler wire. The TIG gloves are not designed for STICK or MIG.
Gloves that are used to handle hot metal may become hard and brittle and crack. Use only pliers to handle hot weld coupons.
Wet or damp gloves should never be used for electric arc welding.
Gloves that develop even small holes should be discarded and replaced before continuing to weld.
The less expensive work gloves may be used for general shop work, but should not be used for welding.
3. LEATHER JACKET, OR CAPE SLEEVES AND BIB
The leather jacket, worn like a coat, offers the best upper body and neck protection from sparks and hot metal globules typical of welding positions other than flat. Most jackets have an inside pocket and snap all the way up to the collar.
A lighter jacket made of fire retardant material may also be used in welding shops. Some of these jackets have leather sleeves. These jackets are good for light welding, but will wear and develop holes when doing a lot of vertical and overhead position welding.
The Cape Sleeves and Bib outfit may be made of all leather or the fire retardant material shown above. You can select either just the sleeves or the cape and sleeves or the cape and sleeves with a front bib.
Although open in the back, the all leather cape sleeves and bib are a good less expensive substitute for the full leather jacket, and is practical for all welding positions.
Note: the bib may be sold separately
4. SAFETY GLASSES
Safety glasses are mandatory for all industrial applications, and recommended eye protection for many hobby or home projects.
In the welding environment Safety glasses further protect the eyes from the intense ultraviolet and infrared rays of the welding arc.
Welders may get a condition known as an eye flash, either from striking an arc without the helmet in place, or more likely, from other welders working in the area.
People that work around welders, are also vulnerable to eye flash without the proper protection. The safety glasses must have side shields to protect the corner of the eye when welders are working close by.
An eye flash occurs when the unprotected eye is burned in a similar manner to a sun burn on skin. Painful problems from the flash usually start several hours after exposure (At Night) and may last all night into the next day. The symptoms include: A feeling of sand or grit in the eye, an inability to keep the eye open and focus, intense pain, redness swelling and watering, burning, and headache.
It is my experience that the flash will clear up without long term problems if you avoid further eye exposures. Consult a doctor if problems persist more than 48 hours.
IT IS CRUCIAL TO WEAR SAFETY GLASSES WHEN WELDING
If you wear prescription glasses, you should use side shields that slip on to the frames of glasses, to protect the sides of the eyes from exposure. Many flashes come from other welders and can burn the eye from the side. Goggles that fit over glasses may also be used
5. WELDING CAP
A welding cap protects the head from sparks flying over the welding helmet and from falling sparks while welding overhead. A cap with no peak called a beanie is a popular choice for welders. A cap with a peak worn backward may also be used.
6. SLAG HAMMER
A slag hammer or sometimes called a chipping hammer is used to remove the slag from the completed stick weld. The slag hammer may have one pointed and be shaped like a chisel on the other end or have two chisel shaped ends. The two most common types are the wire frame and the wood handle.
7. WIRE BRUSH
A wire brush is used to clean the weld layers between passes and to clean the completed weld.
A pair of pliers is used to handle the hot weld coupons, or other hot metal. Using only gloved hands can result in a burn or at least shorten the life of the gloves. A simple pair of slip joint pliers, or a pair of locking pliers, may be used.
WELDER AND EQUIPMENT
SAFETY IN THE WELDING FIELD
In addition to wearing the proper welding uniform there are a number of safety issues that welders must be aware of, make sure you understand the safety guidelines in effect at your company. The American Welding Society (AWS) has available several documents concerning safety for further review. Of special interest is their safety Standard Safety in welding, Cutting and Allied Processes ANSI/AWS Z49.1.
The following is a brief review of some of the guidelines for welding safety:
WELDING MACHINE SAFETY
Before doing any welding read the manual for the type and manufacture of the machine you will be using.
The welding machine is an electrical power source and should be installed by a qualified electrician or properly trained personnel.
Wear the proper clothing and safety uniform to prevent contact with live parts of the welding circuit that can cause severe electric shock or even death. The clothing should be dry and free of grease or oil to prevent flash burning.
When changing electrode holders, ground clamps, or otherwise working on the electrical circuit make sure the machine is turned off. If the power source is in a remote place use a lock-out system or have another employee watch to ensure no one turns on the machine.
Frequently check the ground and electrode cables for bare spots or damage. Check to ensure that insulated parts such as the electrode holder are not damaged exposing live parts. Only qualified personnel should repair damaged cables, ground clamps or electrode holders
Always wear gloves to insert electrodes into the electrode holder. Never leave electrodes in the electrode holder when not welding.
Never drape the welding cable over your body to weld.
Make sure the welding area is dry and do not weld in rain or wet conditions.
Other safety issues apply to Motor generators; make sure you do not work alone, in case of shock the welding machine may need to be shut down quickly.
Do not attempt to repair welding machines unless you have been trained and qualified to do so.
SHOP AND WELDING ENVIRONMENT SAFETY
The welding environment should be well ventilated using fans and extraction devices to remove fumes from the immediate breathing zone and welding area.
Special precautions must be followed when welding in confined space, for example; use welding helmets with forced air or use respirators.
Keep the welding area free of containers that contain combustible materials, paper, cloth, paint and oily or greasy materials.
In case of fire; you should know where the closest fire extinguisher is located and that it is fully charged. In special circumstances an assistant is posted to act as a fire watch.
You should never weld on drums, tanks, or any closed containers unless properly trained and qualified personnel have authorized their safe use.
Be aware of where co-workers are and what they are doing, sparks from welding can travel some distance from the welding area. Falling objects may endanger you or co-workers. Always warn co-workers when you are about to start welding.
A hard hat may be required when welding on some applications. Welding helmets that incorporate a hard hat are available from welding supply stores.
Some companies require employees and welders to wear ear plugs in noisy environments.
Welding curtains may be used to contain welding activities.
Make sure you are aware and understand the safety guidelines that apply to other shop equipment such as; grinders, saws, hand tools and machinery.
When welding on galvanized or painted surfaces toxic fumes may be released. Remove the coating by grinding prior to welding. Use a respirator in a well ventilated area or weld outdoors. Certain types of metals also require the use of a respirator.
Keep the welding area clean and free of clutter, metal, excess welding cables and anything that could fall or cause tripping accidents.
Know where the first aid station is located and report all accidents regardless how small. Burns require immediate treatment to prevent infection.
HANDLEING GAS CYLINDERS
Because of the shape, contents and weight of gas cylinders used in the welding field it is important they be handled with extreme caution and in a safe manner. The following safety guidelines are suggested for safely handling and using gas cylinders.
Gas cylinders should never be moved by carrying, dragging or rolling them. They should only be moved by securing them in an approved cart. The cylinders must have the metal caps in place to protect the valve stem assembly of the cylinder before moving them.
If cylinders must be lifted they should be properly secured in an approved lifting cart or on a platform. Chains, slings, magnets, and other devices where there may be a possibility of the cylinder slipping and falling should never be used.
Cylinders that are transported over the road should be secured in the upright position with their protective steel caps in place.
Oil and grease should never come into contact with the oxygen cylinders, regulators or equipment, since a chemical reaction between the oil and the oxygen may cause a fire or explosion.
Hammers pry bars and similar tools must not be used to open a stuck cylinder valve or remove valve caps. If the cylinder valve is damaged the force of the escaping gas may cause high pressure cylinders to fly around uncontrolled and cause damage or serious injury.
If a cylinder is leaking gas it should be moved outdoors and the gas supplier should be notified immediately.
Cylinders must be chained or secured in the upright position secured on a cart or fastened into a welding machine cart. When not in use they should have the regulators removed and the caps in place.
Never weld on the cylinders, or allow the electrode to come into contact with them and establish an arc.
Use only the approved cylinder wrench to attach regulators and hoses to the cylinder. The use of loose fitting wrenches on the soft brass connections may cause excessive wear by slipping on the connections. Excessive wear may cause the edges of the connectors to become rounded and make it difficult to fit any wrench on them.
Use only the approved regulator and hoses for the type of gas being used and never use the same regulator and hoses for different gas contents.
The cylinder the cylinder valve must be cleaned before attaching the regulators. Standing behind the cylinder quickly open then close the cylinder valve to allowing the high pressure gas to blow out trapped dirt. This action is known as cracking the cylinder. Make sure no one is in front of the cylinder when you crack the cylinder.
Before attaching the regulator make sure the adjusting screw is backed out and loose. Since regulators are designed to blow out the front and back if they fail, stand to the side of the regulator when opening or pressurizing the regulator.
Fuel gas cylinders should only be opened about ¼ turn or until the gas registers on the regulator, so they can be shut down quickly in an emergency. The high pressure cylinders like the oxygen, argon and 75-25 have a double seating valve and should be opened all the way.
The following are suggestions for lifting objects in the shop:
1. For heavy items ask for help to lift and move them.
2. Use gloves when moving metal or pieces with sharp edges.
3. Use lifting devices for extremely heavy material.
4. Use the stronger knees to bend and lift not the weaker back.
Metal hand grinders are used at the school for grinding edge preparations and cleaning up, or repairing weld passes. Ask for instructions if you have never used a hand grinder.
If you purchase a grinder, read the manufacturers handbook and safety recommendations supplied with the grinder.
The following suggestions apply to hand grinders:
· Never use a grinder that has bare wires or a damaged cord.
· Do not leave grinders plugged in and unattended on the workbench.
· Make sure the safety guard is on the grinder.
· Use the handle supplied with the grinder.
· Use the face shield and safety glasses when grinding.
· Make sure the cord or extension cords do not present a tripping hazard.
· Do not lay the grinder down until the wheel has completely stopped.
· Never attempt to repair or work on grinders other than regular maintenance.
· There are repair centers that specialize in safely repairing damaged grinders.
· Use gloves when grinding.
· Make sure the sparks from grinding do not present a hazard to co-workers or Cause a fire threat.
There are many and varied safety guidelines that apply to particular Industries and companies not covered in this section. Take an active interest in safety as it applies to your job and environment to avoid personal injury. Continually review safety guidelines and Material Safety Data Sheets that pertain to you and your company.
Safety is everyone’s business, never compromise safety to get the job done. Many Industrial accidents can jeopardize your career and future.