The use of metals is inevitable in the modern age. To make the metals useful, you often need to weld them together. But environment and health experts consider the welding process an alarming threat. And you cannot ignore the reasons why welding is dangerous.
The air fills up with toxic fumes and gas during the welding process. Ultimately, the environment becomes very unhealthy for the people around it. Welding creates alarming threats to the eyes and ears of the welder if he fails to wear proper protective gear. Besides, welding involves high risks of fire accidents and electric shocks.
In this article, I have emphasized the risks of welding metals to the welder’s health. This article also provides solutions to minimize the potential threats of welding. It aims to make your welding sessions safe and harmless.
There are a few dangers involved in the welding process of metals. It can affect both the environment and the human body with toxicity. Moreover, careless welding can cause fatal accidents too. Here I have listed some of the risks a welder faces during a welding session.
Any metal is a hard object. If you have to alter the shape of any metal object, you need a high magnitude of power. While welding, the power comes from high temperatures. And high temperatures themselves can cause fires.
Fire and explosions are the main risks of a welding process. During the welding of a piece of metal, the temperature can rise to 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
The riskiest part of a welding machine is its arc because it produces a lot of sparks around it during the process. Moreover, the sparks from the welding machine can travel up to 35 feet away from the welding spot. By any chance, if any flammable object lies within the 35-foot perimeter of the welding process, the chances of a disaster are very high.
The welding machine is an electric device, and it requires a high voltage of electricity to work. If a welder is not cautious enough to handle the welding machine, there can be a fatal accident. Moreover, it can also cause death or severe injury to the welder if the power supply infrastructure or the welding machine is faulty.
Sometimes, the metals can transmit electricity from the machine to the welder’s body. There can be bare wires in the electric line, which is very dangerous if the welder or the authority of a workshop fails to take proper safety precautions. The arc welding circuit uses around 100 volts of electricity which is more than enough to kill the welder.
During the welding process, metal particles start floating in the air. These particles are so small that you can’t see them without a magnifying glass. If a welder inhales these metallic particles for a long time, he will accumulate metal in his body. Eventually, he gets cancer in his body. Apart from metal particles, a welding machine produces toxic gas and fumes.
The risk of toxication is even greater while welding stainless steel and aluminum. The alloy coatings of these two metals react at high temperatures and produce highly toxic gas. You have to be careful about the highly harmful metal oxide compounds of the metals you are welding.
You can read our other article about welding indoors and possible risks – Is It Safe To Weld Indoors?
Another risk factor of any welding process is the noise pollution it creates. Any sound that is louder than 85 decibels is harmful to human ears. Unfortunately, the average decibel of the noise that welding machines produce is more than 100 decibels. So, you can imagine how alarming the welding process can be to our auditory system when it endures it for hours.
Research shows regular or frequent exposure to high-decibel welding sounds can cause hearing loss and chronic ringing noises in the ear, known as tinnitus. It can also induce high blood pressure and vertigo.
The eyes are one of the most sensitive parts of our body. They become vulnerable during a welding session. Firstly, welding produces a lot of harmful ultraviolet rays. These rays can cause permanent damage to your eyes. There have been reports of blindness caused by welding.
Another potential risk for the eyes is the random sparks that a welding process can create. If any of the hundreds of sparks can reach near your eyes, it can damage your eyesight. Direct exposure to welding sparks can cause permanent blindness too.
Fortunately, there are solutions for every threat that welding can pose to your health. There is some protective gear to protect your eyes, ears, lungs, and overall health from a hazardous welding process. Besides, some good practices can save you from fire and electricity-related accidents.
First, learn to think of the welding place as a highly vulnerable space for fire accidents. You have to take all the precautions any other fire-sensitive establishment needs to follow. There can be specific rules and regulations in your state for welding.
Meticulously follow the fire-safety regulations. Before every welding session, inspect the whole area for any flammable substances and remove them.
Always keep a fire-extinguisher and buckets full of sand around the corner of the welding place. You have to keep them in a much more visible position so that people can easily find them in their time of need.
Make sure to train all the staff at the welding workshop to use the fire extinguisher. You can regularly do a fire drill to improve the disaster management capacity of the welders.
The welder can save himself from getting sudden electric shocks from the welding machine by wearing protective gear. Since the hands are most likely to get the first blow of electricity, they should wear dry rubber-made gloves. You must ensure that the gloves do not transmit electricity before starting the welding process.
Regularly check the electrical wiring of the workshop and the wires of the welding machine. Fix any damaged parts of the wires immediately. You cannot weld with bare feet since it increases the risk of electrocution.
The welding area is always full of harmful gas. You must not weld without wearing a proper mask. Remember that all the available masks do not protect you from the fumes and gas of a welding session.
Moreover, there should be plenty of space in the welding place. Enough space will minimize the intensity of the gas and fumes and decrease the risk of suffocation.
While welding some metals, you must wear the appropriate glasses and earplugs to protect your eyes and ears. Remember that exposure to high-decibel noises can damage your ears permanently. And you will lose your eyesight for good if the sparks from the welding get in touch with them.
However, wearing protective gear is not optional for you. Several state and federal laws are in place to punish you if you are not wearing protective gear while welding.
The damage a careless welding session can do to your body is irrecoverable. Sometimes it may cause fatal accidents too. So, you have to take all the precautions to mitigate the risks of a welding session. If you analyze the reasons why welding is dangerous, you will see that most of the threats come from a lack of preventive measures and careless behaviors.