If you are a worker or employer who deals with activities involving welding, cutting or brazing then you need to be aware of hazard risks and safety precautions from such activities in the work place. The exposure to these activities and associated health affects are difficult to list. This is in large part due to the fumes containing so many different substances that are known to be harmful. OSHA identifies more than 500,000 workers in industries that deal directly with the above activities. Fatalities alone account for four out every thousand workers over a working lifetime. WorkSource wants you to be aware of the hazards and necessary safety precautions.
What are some of the hazards of welding?
Welding fumes, in particular, can cause an array of acute symptoms that all workers should be aware of- taking the proper safety measures. Metal fumes can cause what’s known as metal fume fever. Symptoms range from wheezing, chest soreness, fever, chills and a metallic taste in the mouth. Welding smoke can irritate eyes, nose and chest, and cause extreme coughing. If you are arc welding, be aware that you should not be done within 200 feet of degreasing equipment or solvents. OSHA has these safety precautions listed on their site, as too should your employer.
What are other hazards
Heat, Ultraviolet rays, visible light, Infrared, noise from excessive tool use, heavy lifting of machinery, and voltage exposure can all pose risks when operating any type of welding, cutting or brazing equipment. All machinery, (with movable parts), must contain guards to prevent an employee’s hair, fingers, skin, and clothing from getting exposed or hurt. When working with voltage or electrical equipment, dry gloves must be worn at all times. When welding, employers should have a dedicated space that is not cramped or wet, thereby decreasing the likelihood of electric shock. Welding and cutting must also be performed in areas free from combustible materials (such as trash), as the sparks and vapors can travel several hundred feet in the air.
How can employers make work conditions safer?
Steps can be taken to reduce hazards from these activities. For instance, using less hazardous materials (such as cadmium-free silver solders or asbestos-free electrodes, gloves, and hot pads) can significantly reduce health risks. Proper ventilation in the dedicated work zones and appropriate barriers or shielding will also prevent worker injury. Employers should offer personal protective equipment for employees working with welding, cutting or brazing machinery. Hearing protection, such as ear plugs, should also be worn. Employers can also take steps to monitor air quality for those working in these conditions. It is also the responsibility of the employee to monitor their own safety; utilizing appropriate protection, following all company policies, obtaining appropriate training, monitoring their own physical wellness.
Know the laws.
OSHA has stringent standards for many aspects of welding, cutting and brazing. OSHA can help answer any questions regarding appropriate safety protocols. If you feel you need more information regarding workplace safety, OSHA has confidential phone numbers either the employer or employee can call. For more information you can visit their site.
Workers have the right to a safe workplace.
Employers have the right to the latest OSHA updates regarding worker safety. WorkSource takes the safety of your work environment seriously. For more information on OSHA safety standards contact our team at WorkSource today.