There are many debates about wearing conventional jewelry while welding. Some people faced burn injuries because of metal jewelry on their first day, while others didn’t feel anything despite welding with jewelry on for years. In the end, many people are concerned about the potential risks. I’m sure you are looking to get a definitive answer on this topic.
Wearing jewelry can be a risk while welding. The same applies to any other metal ornaments and piercings because they are also conductive. The electric conductivity of most jewelry is the primary reason for these unwritten safety rules.
The rule against wearing jewelry to work is not unique to welders. Plenty of other fields have the same rule. Can you wear jewelry while welding? It turns out you can. That said, they can cause some brutal accidents with even the slightest negligence. I will talk about how jewelry can pose a risk while welding and how you can avoid accidents, so stay tuned.
Can You Wear Accessories While Welding?
There is plenty of jewelry and accessory types out there, but they don’t come with the same level of risk factors. Some jewelry is just a minor hindrance, while others can burn a limb off if you aren’t careful. There is also safe jewelry that would only harm someone if they are an idiot of astronomical proportion.
Here, I will list all of these jewelry and accessory types that pose the most threat:
Rings are arguably the most common jewelry people wear. It is also the one that people are most reluctant to take off for various reasons. Sadly, it also happens to be the most hazardous one of the bunches for anyone working at a welding workshop.
The danger of a ring near an Arc or TIG welder is horrifying, and there are plenty of people who can attest to that. One miss-step is all it takes to turn your finger into a medium steak. There are plenty of people who got their ring fingers close enough to a welding machine without gloves on and ended up with terrible burn injuries.
The worst part is, burn injuries are the least common workplace injuries associated with rings. The risk mostly lies in blunt force injuries. Metalworker’s shop or a welder’s workshop, both have a ton of heavy things lying around. It’s not uncommon to hit your finger with a hammer or something similar due to carelessness.
Under normal circumstances, such injuries should heal within a few hours unless you hit them particularly hard. But it’s a whole other ball game if you hit a finger with a ring on it. If you can’t take the ring off as soon as you get hit, chances are you won’t ever get that off without cutting the ring itself.
Blunt injuries cause swelling, which blocks the blood circulation in the finger. It keeps getting worse with time, and you can only break the ring to bring your finger back to normal. Hence almost every metalworker follows the unwritten rule of not wearing a ring while working.
The second most hazardous metal accessory would be piercings. People get piercings in a lot of different places, some of which pose no threat while welding. But be aware of getting any on your hands or the chest to defend against high electricity TIG welders.
In truth, it’s better to avoid bringing any unnecessary metal while working with a welding machine. The risk of these things is not limited to welding accidents. Any electrical accident can become significantly more dangerous if you have a piercing in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The risk is still significantly lower than the risk posed by metal rings though. The negative mindset towards piercing is more due to professional dress code requirements than the actual safety issue. Your piercing should be perfectly safe as long as you cover them up under protective gears.
Getting piercings on the body and hands is also slightly dangerous due to electromagnetic fields. These areas are usually closer to the welding process. High electricity welding machines often create EM fields, which can cause your piercings to charge up. The risk gets reduced with distance. Your torso and hands are closest to the welding. So, piercings in these regions have a higher risk of getting charged up.
3. Bracelets and Necklace
Metal bracelets are almost as dangerous as metal rings, but at least you don’t need to fear blunt force injuries. The chance of electrocuting a loose bracelet is much higher due to its movement. But most sensible people remove these things before working, so there are not that many accidents.
Necklace falls into a more ambiguous category. Under normal circumstances, it’s unlikely to come anywhere near a welding machine, but the results would be catastrophic if it does. Long-chain necklaces are the most dangerous variant, as they might get charged up from the EM field.
Honestly, it’s better to just take the thing off while working. Most people would avoid wearing metal as much as possible during work hours to avoid potential accidents.
Safety Measures If You Want To Wear Jewelry While Welding
There are a few safety rules you can follow to reduce potential risks while welding. Some of the things here are pretty standard stuff, so most professionals should already be familiar with it.
I’ll still list them out for the beginners;
- Wear proper welding gloves while welding. You won’t need to remove your metal ring if you have a decent set of gloves on.
- Wear a good respirator if you have a beard. You can get custom-fitting respirators these days, so maybe try investing in those. I still suggest getting rid of it though.
- Wear fire-resistant clothing while working. You don’t need a proper bodysuit, just a decent apron would be enough.
- You can also invest in silicon accessories and jewelry. These things do not conduct electricity, so they are fairly safe near welding machines
Can Welders Keep Beards?
A beard is neither metal jewelry nor an accessory, but it falls under the same fashion niche. It also has the same level of potential danger as metal accessories for welders, so I think it’s worth talking about it a little.
Facial hair can cause complications with the respirator, so many companies caution their workers to take safety measures. Facial hair plays the same hindering role for a welder as it does for military personnel. Too much facial hair makes the gas mask ineffective.
Welding generates plenty of harmful gas, either from the metal or the weld itself. There’s also the shielding gas to worry about. These fumes can cause serious health issues for workers. So, a proper respirator seal is necessary to reduce the harmful effect. Facial hair comes in the way of a respirator, and I don’t think it’s worth risking one’s health to prove their manliness.
The good thing is, most professional workshops won’t even let you on the field without a clean shave. Some workshops might let you get away with a few stubbles, but that’s about as much as they will allow. So, my advice is mostly for DIY welders.
Let’s go over the main points one last time. Can you wear jewelry while welding? Yes, you can. Should you wear jewelry while welding? No, you should not; unless they are not made of conductive material.
We humans are not perfect beings, and we make tons of careless mistakes. It’s impossible to stay alert all the time. And metal jewelry could cause serious accidents if you are careless, even for a little bit.