By Esperanza Poquiz
It is essential for welders to follow the proper safety precautions when it comes to handling dangerous welding fumes and gases. Here are a few tips on how to stay safe when you are fusion or pressure welding:
- OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard requires your employer to provide information and proper training on the hazardous materials that are in your workspace. Understanding the dangers that come with the various materials you work with can help you determine which compounds are harmful when you are overexposed to them. Product labels inform you of safety precautions, warnings and any special procedures to follow. Always read the labels!
- Position yourself so that you are not breathing in fumes by staying upwind. The greatest concentration of fumes are in the fume plume. Keep your head out of this space. Do not weld in small confined spaces that have little to no ventilation.
- An adequate ventilation system located within the room reduces gas and fume buildup. Natural, mechanical or local ventilation partnered with fixed or moveable exhaust hoods aid in extracting pollution from your work space. To achieve maximum results, keep fume extractor guns and vacuum nozzles close to the plume source. If you feel that there is not enough ventilation, a NIOSH approved respirator may be needed.
- Contact your physician to learn what symptoms come from overexposure to gases and discuss actions to take if you’re experiencing them. Long term exposure to fumes may result in health complications. Over exposure to gases leads to suffocation and become a serious asphyxiation hazard. (1)
The next time you decide to weld, whether at home or on the job, be sure to keep these tips in mind to ensure that you stay safe!
“Controlling Hazardous Fume and Gases during Welding.” Occupational Safety and Health Administration, March 2013.