Many different industries need welders for a variety of jobs. Safe welding practices in all of these industries are vital not only for the safety of the welder, but for everyone around him as well. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), “The risk from fatal injuries alone is more than four deaths per thousand workers over a working lifetime.” The most common injuries when welding are eye injuries, fire, explosions, toxins, and electric shock.
Eye injuries are one of the most common injuries for those in the welding profession. OSHA and other industry professionals recommend wearing eye protection at all times when welding. “Arc eye” is one example of the serious eye hazards that welder’s face. Welding goggles protect your eyes not only from flying particles and debris but also from the bright light generated by welding. This light can burn your eye’s sensitive cornea in seconds, resulting in pain, inflammation, and in some cases, blindness from a burned retina.
Fire is another common concern for welders. Because welding creates sparks and hot pieces of metal scraps it is very easy to start a fire. Wooden floors, oil, gasoline, and other common flammable materials should be removed or protected with fireproof materials before you begin to weld. Although this is simply common sense, oftentimes fires start because a welder didn’t properly clean the area around him before beginning to work. Having a bucket of sand or fire extinguisher nearby and ready to go is vital to preventing loss of property and injury due to fires.
The chemicals used in welding are not only highly toxic but also extremely explosive if handled incorrectly. OSHA recommends protective clothing to guard against burns from toxic chemicals as well as explosions. Since welders produce smoke containing particles of various toxins, extraction fans and vapor masks are recommended to keep the risk of toxic exposure minimal.
Most welders operate from electric power sources. Because of this, electric shock is another risk welder’s take in their profession. In order to avoid electric shocks it is imperative that all water and metal be kept away from welding jobs. Common sense and alert attention will help keep you safe while welding.
Ray Subs is a public relations expert who is working with Baker’s Safety. More information about Baker’s Safety can be found at