If you want to be a welder, you should be aware of all the risks related to the profession. You will work with electronic devices and metals. So, one of the common concerns might be getting electric shocks during work. So, you may wonder: can I get shocked while welding?
There is a chance of getting electric shocks while working with welding equipment. But this happens mostly when a welder does not follow safety measures or acts carelessly around electric wires and welding machines. Electric shocks during welding can be mild to severe.
In this article, I will tell you how you may get shocked while welding so that you can avoid such conditions. You will also know how to prepare for electrical hazards and what to do when you or anyone else gets electric shocks during welding.
How Can You Get Electric Shocks While Welding?
Electric shock is one of the serious and immediate risks every welder should be aware of. A welder can receive an electric shock by touching two electrically hot metal objects. Or, it can occur when your body becomes a conductor between an electrode cable and a metal.
Many experienced welders may brush off the concern of electric shocks, saying that minor shocks are a regular occurrence. Nonetheless, you should be cautious. The voltage of electricity may not be so low all the time.
The severity of the electric shock is influenced by the magnitude of the electric current flowing through your body. The type of current that causes the shock also influences the severity. There are two types of current: alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC). During welding, you will work with both alternating and direct currents.
What Happens When You Get Shocked While Welding?
If you come into contact with direct current, the initial electric shock to your body may not be severe. But staying in contact with the current for a long period of time will increase the chances of getting injured. However, you can remove yourself from such currents at any time.
However, if you come into contact with a high voltage alternating current (AC), the initial shock can be very dangerous. The shock causes uncontrollable muscle contractions and stops your heart. Both types of current can be fatal depending on the circumstances.
The most common type of sock is the secondary voltage shock that you can get from touching electrode circuits. The shock ranges from 20 to 100 volts. You get secondary electric shocks when your skin touches an electrode cable and the metal you are working on.
On the other hand, the welding inside the welding equipment is typically higher. It ranges from 120 to 575 volts, or even more. We know this level of electric shock as a primary voltage shock.
It can happen when you touch two electrically hot wires or when you touch a lead and other electrically hot components inside the welder equipment while touching the welder case. This shock is more than enough to cause fatal injury or death.
How To Avoid Getting Shocked During Welding?
Welders have to work in various conditions. They may have to work in electrically dangerous conditions such as damp locations or on metal structures (floors, gratings, scaffolds, or ladders) in cramped positions.
In such situations, when you must come into contact with the piece of work and use electricity, you must follow some safety measures.
So, here are some tips you can follow to avoid getting electric shocks while welding:
- Electric shock can seriously injure or kill. So, first, you must make sure not to touch electrically charged parts or electrodes with skin or wet clothing.
- Make sure to keep your skin fully insulated from the welding area and the grounding source.
- Place the welder machine on a safe and dry surface. You can also put a rubber mat under the machine. You should properly plug it into a circuit with the correct size breaker.
- Always wear dry gloves that are in good condition. Wear an insulated jacket and, for eye protection, you need to put on a helmet. Then, put on rubber boots and rubber pads.
- Do not remove the welding rod without wearing a glove. The glove must be dry.
- Never under any circumstance put any electronic parts close to water.
- If you wear any metal jewelry, like wedding rings and such, do not forget to take them off. Some metals are conductive. Hence, you will get electric shocks during work.
- For high-risk working conditions, use tools and equipment that will protect you from electric shock. The safety equipment like semi-automatic DC constant voltage welder, DC manual stick welder, AC welder with reduced voltage control. Etc.
- Always check your electrode holder before turning on the welder machine.
- The holder has a plastic or fiber insulation that protects you from touching electrically hot parts inside the welder. If the holder is damaged, replace the damaged parts with replacement parts or get a new holder.
- Before plugging in any equipment cables, examine the wires to check if they have any damages. You should repair the damaged cables with high-quality electric tape. But some wires or parts may not be repairable. Learn more about them from your local welding codes.
- Do not stand on a wet surface. If you are sweaty, dry yourself and your clothes first.
- When you finish welding or taking breaks, always turn off the welder and other equipment. You should not only turn the welder off but also unplug it from the electric source.
- If the welder machine needs any repairs, call an expert to do them. Trying to repair parts of the machine without experience can cause you more trouble.
If you follow these safety measures, there will be a rare chance of getting electric shocks. All the stories you have heard about welders getting shocked are due to not following safety measures properly or using faulty machines.
What To Do When You Get Shocked?
By now, you are aware of the safety tips, but what if you or any of your co-workers get electric shocks during welding? So, you have to be alert for your safety and that of others in the working space.
Here is what you can do when any shock incident happens:
- Do not touch victims without wearing any protective gloves until they are away from the electric source.
- If the victim gets hurt or unconscious, call for immediate medical support.
- If you can, turn off the power source or circuit breaker panel. Also, if you can reach the electric machine that is producing the shock, turn it off and take off the plug from the power source.
- Use something like a dry piece of wood, a broom, or other insulated objects or equipment to remove the victim or the wire. In the case of a high voltage shock, call for help.
- Try to stand on insulating materials like cardboard, wood, or rubber pads when you try to remove the victim from the shock.
- If the victim gets unconscious, move them away from danger. Check the pulse and heartbeat of the victim. Give artificial respiration and CPR if you are trained.
- The victim may fall from a high structure or ladder after an electric shock. In such cases, do not move them much because they can injure their neck or spine. Wait until the paramedics arrive.
- Sometimes, the skin parts that come in contact with the shock can get severely burned. Cover the burn with a sterile dressing and go to the hospital.
- The victim of an electric shock should rest and keep their vitals in check for any complications.
So, by now, you should know the detailed answer to: can I get shocked while welding? Welders can get electric shocks as they deal with electric power and metals. But you can always prevent accidents from happening.
Wear protective gear and use tools safely to avoid getting shocked. Staying alert about electrical hazards will keep you and your fellow welders safe.