Welding involves production of harmful welding fumes, loud noises, intense heat and glaring light
The fumes can come from the base materials being welded, from the welding rod/wire, from the welding filler metals, and from the coatings of the base material (material to be welded).
The base material or welding rod/wire could produce fumes containing Iron oxide, Manganese, Nickel or Chromium or a combination.
The coatings include Cadmium used to coat steel, paint used to coat other metals; if coated with Cadmium, the fumes will contain Cadmium but if coated with paint, the fumes will contain Lead. The effects of welding on the welder depend on the material being welded including the coating, the welding space (enclosed or open) and also the preventive measures taken by the welder.
The health problems associated with welding including physical injuries, irritation of the respiratory tract, damage to the eyes (blurred vision and burning sensation in the eye), hearing loss, heat stroke, respiratory diseases, neurological diseases, burns and kidney diseases.
These problems could be prevented by welding practices and control measures put in place.
1. Use of gloves/trousers/jackets
The use of hand gloves by welders will certainly prevent hand injuries such as cuts and burns, there are special gloves for welders. The gloves should be used in conjunction with welding trousers and jackets; most of them are made from animal skin.
2. Use of respirators
Apart from fumes and vapors, welding also produces particulates; welders are therefore advised to use respirators to prevent inhalation of particulates, fumes and vapors. There are different types in the market, chose the appropriate one for the contaminants of your welding.
3. Use of face mask
Welding involves production of harmful welding fumes depending on the base materials being welded, the coatings of the base materials and the welding wires/rods used. Welders can easily breathe the fumes and vapors leading to respiratory diseases, neurological and possibly kidney problems. The amount of vapor and fumes taken in can be drastically reduced by the use of face masks. There are so many types of facemasks in the market, some disposable, others re-usable.
4. Use of goggles
Welding produces glaring light, ultraviolet light, which can damage the cornea; this can be prevented by the use of welding goggles. There are several types of welding goggles in the market, ensure you get a suitable one.
5. Open space welding
Welding in the open reduces the heat but this exposes neighbours to the health problems of welding. However if you can have an isolated space to do your welding, then the problem of heat generated by welding is minimized. The resulting fumes, vapors and particles are easily dispersed.
6. Use of ear plugs
Welding produces noise, the latter could be quite loud; an ear plug is therefore advised. There are ear plugs for welders, get them.
If welding is done in an enclosure whether small or big, then ventilators must be installed to remove the fumes, vapor and particulates and bring in fresh air. This will reduce to a minimum the concentration of fumes and particulates in the enclosed space.
8. Use of welding helmets
For those who can afford it, a welding helmet is highly recommended; it has the head protector, glass shield in place of goggles, respirator and neck protector. It is a four in one safety product. Apart from protecting the eyes, it protects the face and neck from burns due to sparks and heat.