Welding Safety Tips

There is no doubt you can have some real fun with a welder; the sparks, the power, the skill – whether it be a small home-hobby project you are embarking on, or you are out on site getting into some heavy repair work. But with any trade there are some significant risks and safety precautions that should be adhered to and taken very seriously.

We have compiled a list of general safety tips to consider in all facets of welding and cutting whether it be gas or arc.

Welding and cutting are both very serious processes, and safety should always be the number one priority when dealing with not only our products, but any product by any company under the welding and cutting banner.

Arc Radiation

Arc radiation is a result of ULTRA-VIOLET (UV) and INFRA-RED (IR) RAYS and exposure can cause:

  • Skin Cancer
  • Thermal Skin Burns (severe sun burn)
  • ARC FLASH (Welders Flash) or EYE BURN which can result in inflammation of the cornea, cataracts or blindness.
  • A welding flash can occur by indirectly viewing the arc even for a relatively short time, for example:
    • Unconsciously looking out the corner of the eye
    • Looking away from the arc (close eyes then turn away).
    • Reflections of the arc from shiny surfaces in the welding area.

Advised Protection Required Includes:

  • An approved welding helmet with the correct filter and shade number.
  • Safety glasses which will help to refract (bend away) the UV and IR rays away, reducing the chances of Arc Flash.
  • Always wear protective full covering clothing to shield your body from potential burns, for example:
    • Overalls/flame resistant wool or cotton.
    • Leather apron and jackets.
    • Always wear leather gloves.
    • Skull cap (for overhead welding).
    • Screen the welding zone when welding in open spaces.

Electric Shock

Tips for prevention of electric shock

  • Never touch live metal parts with bare skin or wet clothing.
  • Repair any damaged or loose connections, especially bare cables, before welding.
  • Keep your gloves and other protective clothing, dry and free of oil and grease.
  • Never coil or loop welding cables around your body.
  • Don’t weld while standing on a wet surface or while standing in water.

Fumes & Gases

Are caused by the melting, vapourisation and other reactions of the consumables, base metals and gases (where applicable) involved in the welding arc.

Some common contaminants:

ContaminantSource
Iron FumeVaporisation of iron from base metal and electrode coatings.
ChromiumStainless steel, electrode coatings, platings.
NickelStainless steel, nickel-clad steel.
Zinc FumeVaporisation of zinc alloys, electrode coatings galvanised steel, zinc-primed steel.
Copper FumeVaporisation of coatings on electrode wires, sheaths on air carbon arc gouging electrodes, copper alloys.
Vanadium, Manganese, MolybdenumWelding rods, alloying elements in steels.
TinTin-coated steel, some nonferrous alloys.
CadmiumPlating
LeadFluxes, coatings on electrodes, flux in wires
Carbon MonoxideCombustion products of gas metal arc welding, air carbon arc gouging, oxyfuel flames; exhaust from car engines.
OzoneGas metal arc welding, air carbon arc gouging; titanium and aluminium welding in inert gas atmospheres
Nitrogen DioxideGas metal arc welding; oxyfuel flame processes.
PhosgeneWelding of metal covered with chlorinated hydrocarbon solvents.

Exposure to fumes and gases can damage the lungs and respiratory system or cause asphyxiation.

Advised Protection Required Includes:

  • Adequate ventilation.
  • Keep your head out and away from the fumes.
  • Use a welding fume respirator, or an air supplied respirator (especially in confined space).
  • Use a fume extraction unit/or gun.
    N.B. Welding fume fever caused by breathing fumes formed by the welding of various metals can occur a few hours after exposure and can last several days.

Symptoms Include:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Dry nose and throat
  • Chills
  • Metallic taste in mouth
  • Weakness
  • Joint and muscle pain

Note: If any of these symptoms are observed please seek professional medical attention.

Heat, Fire & Sparks

  • Are caused by welding and related processes, operators are at continual risk of burns by hot and molten metal, sparks and heat radiated from the arc.
  • Welding sparks can travel long distances and have been known to reach up to 15 metres away from the source of welding on the ground and even further when working in elevated positions.
  • These sparks can reach combustible materials and start fires, as well as burning unprotected skin.
  • Burns can result from handling hot just welded work (the most common of welding burns) and molten weld metal (spatter) falling or spitting onto exposed skin.

Advised Protection Required Includes:

  • Always wear protective clothing.
  • Keep safety glasses on your head where they belong.
  • Always mark just welded work with the word “HOT”.
  • Know where the nearest fire extinguisher or fire hose is and how to use them.
  • Remove combustible materials away from the welding area. (at least 15 metres or 50 feet away).
  • If in an elevated position, post a person on the ground as a fire-watcher.
  • Never connect the earth lead to electrical circuits of pipes containing gases or flammable liquids.