What is PPE required for welding?
Safety is a major issue for day labourers and skilled labourers. Each year, accidents frequently happen in the construction industry and oftentimes it is due to the absence of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or failure to wear the provided PPE. PPE is equipment that will protect workers against health or safety risks on the job. The purpose is to reduce employee exposure to hazards when engineering and administrative controls are not feasible or effective to reduce these risks to acceptable levels. These hazard risks can be anything from wet floors to falling debris and everything in between. PPE includes items such as protective helmets, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear, safety harnesses and, sometimes, respiratory protective equipment. Let's explore some PPE commonly used on construction sites and their benefits:
What makes it dangerous being a welder?
Welders have to face a number of physical and chemical hazards which lead to a need for personal protective equipment. It is the responsibility of employers to ensure that their employees are well-equipped and trained to handle hazards that pose a potential risk to their health. Following are some of the major hazards that welding workers have to counter:
Flying particles and flumes
Particles and fumes created during welding operations are potentially dangerous when inhaled. Most of the welders are exposed to these fluids during machining processes which is a major cause of respiratory problems in welders. Asthma, impaired lung function, chronic bronchitis and skin burns are some of the common occupational health-related issues. Appropriate use of safety garments like Nomex coveralls and protective equipment like masks and gloves helps prevent skin contact with flying objects and flumes.
Welding operators have to deal with chemicals like metalworking fluids. As these metalworking fluids are alarmingly dangerous and contain harmful contamination, employees must take preventive measures in order to make the job safe. Appropriate protective dress such as boots, gloves, masks, and welding coveralls can help workers stay protected against workplace hazards.
Tools used in arc welding make it necessary for operators to guard against electric shocks. Electric shocks are considered a common workplace hazard which is life-threatening. This hazard mostly occurs when metal workers touch two metals charged with electricity at the same time. Careful scrutiny of a workplace to detect a potential risk of electric shocks can lead to a better working environment. Personal protective equipment can further improve the safety conditions.
Fire and explosions
Arc welding creates a high temperature that leads to a potential risk of fire and explosions. Having said that, the real danger is not the arc but the sparks, spatter and heat created during operations. Flammable materials should be removed from the workplace.
PPE plays a vital role in keeping welding operators free from burns, injuries, and exposure to arc rays. The right protective equipment and safety clothing not only allow workers to move freely but also provide adequate protection against welding hazards. Flame-resistant cotton garments or Nomex coveralls are recommended for welders. Workers who have to face dangerous workplace hazards should pay close attention to safety information, procedures, and safety data sheets provided by the manufacturer. It is advisable to consult a safety garments manufacturer in order to get tailor-made coveralls, bib pants, gloves, coats, and other necessary safety equipment that suits your job.
Whether you are currently a welder or would like to get into the career, it is important to understand what clothing you are going to have to wear. Often, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is necessary to keep you as safe as possible while you work. Many jobs require you to wear PPE, and welding is no different.
However, Personal Protective Equipment must protect you from hazards, such as sparks, burns, spatters, radiation, and electrical shock. Wearing PPE is a good practice, and most companies require that you wear it in accordance with OSHA regulations.
Why do you need to evaluate PPE needs?
A recommended first step to assessing a safety program is to enlist the help of a third-party resource or outside consultant. To help solve the issues identified, the OSH professional enlisted the help of a welding specialist on 3M's PPE Safety Solutions team to determine the best way to alleviate these issues and more importantly, maximize productivity while protecting workers.
The first thing the welding specialist did was to assess the hazards on the job site. He discovered the following:
- Workers exposed to welding fumes and arc radiation generated from the welding process they were using.
- Workers' eyes and faces need to be protected from particles released while grinding and using a wire brush.
- Significant noise was generated from welding, grinding, arc gouging and other processes.
- Respiratory system and workers' skin were exposed to potential hazards from urethane foams and isocyanates present during the painting and foaming process.
- Temperatures were elevated from the welding, arc gouging and foaming operations.
- Each of these issues came with its own set of regulations and standards and ways to eliminate or manage the hazard. The OSH professional on-site had succeeded in safeguarding workers against these hazards but knew there was room for improvement.
The biggest issue he identified was compatibility. The safety glasses used did not pair well with the welding helmet or grinding shields used, causing them to fog up in the hot and humid environment. Additionally, when workers switched from welding to grinding tasks, they frequently had to change into different PPE equipment, often disrupting particles and other foreign materials in and around their hair and head, creating the potential for foreign body eye injuries.
They needed equipment that worked well together and could be applied to all tasks.
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Why is PPE necessary for welders?
Cutting and welding can cause significant hazards while working. These can include you being in contact with radiation (ultraviolet, blue light, and infrared). However, you may also be around gases and fumes, slag, excessive heat, and more. Because these hazards can lead to injury, burns, and death, you should wear the right PPE at all times. There are a variety of things to wear and consider to protect all areas of the body.
Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, is imperative in an industry such as welding, which presents constant danger from the welding process that includes heat, radiation and ricochet. Here at Arc Welding Services, we understand the importance of health and safety, so we thought it best to kick off our "Health & Safety" series of blogs with the basics of PPE.
Build a PPE System from Head to Toe
To ensure optimal safety, comfort and fit, each piece of PPE needed should be considered simultaneously. In this particular case, workers were using traditional hardhats with a hardhat-mounted flip-up or passive welding helmets and grinding shields with safety glasses. These were paired with either disposable or reusable respiratory protection. The welding specialist began by launching a trial of products that integrated PPE into one system. Workers evaluated two powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) systems that offered a respiratory system with an integrated hard hat, welding and face shield and optional hearing protection.
These PAPR systems were paired with compatible welding shields and safety glasses. In areas that needed additional cooling, supplied-air cooling was introduced to provide adjustable cooling of up to 50 degrees Fahrenheit to the hood.
With this new, single system, workers could work comfortably for longer periods of time because they could get into tight spaces with less equipment – eliminating the need to spend time changing equipment – and could raise their welding shields in certain locations without risking exposure. Additionally, by tucking the inner bib of the supplied air hood into the coveralls, the workers were able to benefit from the cooling effect throughout their entire coverall suit.
Eyes and Face
The standard practice for PPE, in terms of protecting the eyes and face, includes a combination of equipment that should include a helmet, hand shield, goggles and safety glasses.
In terms of eye protection, the appropriate filters or lenses for the specific task at hand are required at all times: you can find out more about the right filters in this article. The most appropriate filter shade, along with the other aspects of welding PPE is determined by the ANSI Standard, Practice for Occupation and Educational Eye and Face Protection.
Helmets are required to guard the face, forehead, neck and ears. This protection is necessary to prevent injury from direct radiant energy and weld splatter. Helmets and filter plates are also designed to protect from arc rays, as well as weld sparks. These do not, however, defend the welder against slag chips, grinding fragments, wire-wheel bristle etc., which can ricochet under the helmet and cause an injury. The main prevention method for impact hazards is wearing appropriate protective glasses or goggles.
Industrial noise is often discounted as an occupational hazard since it isn't visible to the eye. However, 22 million workers in the United States are exposed to potentially harmful noise levels annually. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, about 82% of occupational hearing loss cases occurred to workers in the manufacturing sector. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration establishes occupational noise exposure standards. NIOSH recommends that worker exposures to noise be reduced to a level equivalent to 85 dBA for eight hours to reduce occupational noise-induced hearing loss. Earplugs and earmuffs are common hearing protection tools. It is important to note that earmuffs are more effective in reducing high-frequency noise while earplugs are more effective for reducing low-frequency noise.
Welding is a tactile endeavour. Comfortable, flame-resistant welding gloves go a long way to facilitating a focused and productive welder. Protection is key. Your hands work in close proximity to the arc, exposed to intense heat and radiation. But maintaining dexterity is also important, especially when TIG welding. With so many options available—including women's gloves—it's possible to find the right size and style to suit almost any welder or application.
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Stick and heavy-duty MIG welding gloves are made to protect you from heat and spatter. Look for gloves with heavy stitching, flame-resistant construction and multiple layers of insulation. Some heavy-duty welding gloves feature silicone patches for added protection from heat and spatter.
Standard-duty MIG welding gloves are often made of leather and offer more skill and less insulation than their heavy-duty counterparts. Heavier MIG gloves are lined, and light- to medium-duty options are unlined. Have a look at these Miller, Lincoln, and Watson welding gloves if MIG welding is your primary application.
TIG welding gloves combine flexibility and durability. To allow for extra dexterity, TIG gloves are unlined and made of soft, heat-resistant leather, like deer or goat hide. While individual TIG welders maintain their own preferences, most agree that TIG gloves should fit snug so that you can maneuver electrodes without difficulty. KMS has TIG welding gloves in a range of styles and brands.
As is true with the face and eye protection in the welding process, the most appropriate clothing can differ, depending on the specific weld being carried out.
Sufficient coverage and materials to protect from spark, splatter and radiation burns are the main goals for safe clothing when welding. This means that the whole body should be covered, which will also prevent UV and infrared ray flash burns.
Dark clothing, made from wool, heavy cotton or leather is ideal because of their ability to prevent light-reflection under the helmet and into the eyes. The materials, as mentioned above, are also tough, which reduces the risk of deterioration and melting. On this subject, it's important that sleeves are not rolled, pockets of fabric are not present, and trousers aren't cuffed as these crevices are prone to cradling hot debris.
Flame-resistant gloves are also a must when welding, which may come in the form of leather welding gloves, and a gauntlet cuff is also advised. A gauntlet cuff will protect the welder's arms, and the insulated lining will further prevent radiation burning.
It is imperative that you protect your feet with the right boots. Generally, the boots should meet all requirements for ASTM F2413 or ASTM F2412. Some companies go by the slightly outdated ANSI Z41, though it has officially been withdrawn. Make sure that the shoe has a compliance mark inside of it.
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Though you must wear boots, they should be leather, high-topped, and steel-toed. Plus, they need to be in good condition. This will help to protect your ankles and feet from injury.
If you're in a slag or heavy spark area, make sure you also use fire-resistant boot protectors. You can also use leather spats, which are strapped around the pant legs, and go over the boot tops so that sparks can't get into the shoe and burn your skin.
Compliance rules require that you don't wear pants that feature cuffs. Make sure the bottoms of the pants cover the tops of your boots so that flying metal and sparks can't get inside. However, you should NOT tuck the pant legs into the boots.
Always wear leather work boots that comply with local safety standards. Welding-specific work boots offer additional protection on the top of your foot, shielding your laces from sparks and protecting your metatarsal from heavy objects. If you occasionally weld on the job, you might want to consider heat-resistant leather spats. Spats can protect from sparks and spatter and aren't as expensive as welding-specific boots.
Like all welding safety equipment, welding jackets are effective when they feature durable flame-resistant materials, fit properly and, most importantly, are actually worn by the welder. Comfort is a key component in wearability, so choose a jacket that is appropriate for the process and application.
For light-duty welding applications, cotton jackets are available in both treated flame-resistant cloth and engineered flame-resistant cloth, like these Miller Indura jackets. While either can spare your skin from heat without bogging you down with unnecessary weight, Indura jackets are washable and more durable than classic cotton jackets.
Welders have worn leather jackets for decades. They offer excellent durability and flame resistance in medium- and heavy-duty applications. The trouble is, it gets hot underneath all that heavy pigskin. Still, leather offers the best combination of durability and protection. Some manufacturers offer jackets with leather sections protecting areas that face the most heat and fire-resistant cotton elsewhere.
Jackets made with proprietary flame-resistant fabrics bring together the durability and protection of leather with the lightness of cotton. For example, Miller's WeldX jacket will shed sparks and spatter like leather without the weight. Contact the welding department at your nearest KMS Tools location to order specialty welding jackets or clothing.
Aprons and Sleeves
When worn beneath a jacket, a welding apron can offer additional protection for a welder's legs and chest. Pair it with a flame-resistant shirt and leather sleeves for protection during light-duty welding.
Melting metal emits a medley of fumes. Wearing a respirator is a good way to keep all that nasty stuff out of your lungs. KMS Tools has respirators (and replacement cartridges) designed to fit beneath a welding helmet and filter out the tiny particles of metal that take to the air during arc welding.
Welding Hats and Beanies
Often made with funky patterns and colourful threads, a welding hat can add a little personality to a welder's personal protective equipment. While some welders like hats with a soft brim they can position over either ear to protect from sparks and slag, others prefer beanies or bandannas to help keep sweat out of their eyes.
Regardless of style preferences, the best welding hat will deliver both comfort and protection. Choose one that fits nicely beneath your welding helmet or hard hat, and remember that heavier cotton provides extra cushioning but can get hot over the course of the day.
The Danger of the Welding Process
Safety is paramount in any process, and this is no different for the welding process when we consider the heat and materials at play. Burns are the most common injury in arc welding, but there is the danger presented by radiation and electric shock. No matter the dexterity of your PPE, you should not carry out any welding without having been properly trained and using sound equipment.
What is the importance of safety gear for welding?
Professional welders are constantly at risk on the job. Daily-use welding equipment puts out heat, sparks, metal, and fumes that are a danger. Welders are exposed to these threats for several hours every day. Finding the best safety equipment is key. This means identifying the right type of protection for each job. Protective equipment should be usable and comfortable and the highest quality available.
It's important that proper safety procedures be observed on any worksite. Obviously, it's a responsibility that starts with the individual worker. Still, contractors, as well as their clients, need to be aware and assure that all necessary precautions are taken to provide for the protection of all workers as both an ethical and legal obligation.
Welding safety starts with an understanding of what could go wrong, and preparation for when it does. Risks include electric shock, injuries related to inhalation of toxic fumes, eye injury and skin burns. To start, protective clothing and equipment must be worn during all welding operations, including helmets and shields.
For arc welding, the electric arc is a very powerful source of light, including visible, ultraviolet, and infrared. During all-electric welding processes, operators must use safety goggles and a hand shield or helmet equipped with a suitable filter glass to protect against the intense ultraviolet and infrared rays. When others are in the vicinity of the electric welding processes, the area must be screened so the arc cannot be seen either directly or by reflection from glass or metal.
During all oxy acetylene welding and cutting processes, operators must use safety goggles to protect the eyes from heat, glare, and flying fragments of hot metals.
Also, be sure to keep MSDS sheets (Material Safety Data Sheets) for all hazardous materials. Every manufacturer provides MSDS sheets to keep you informed regarding any potential hazards, such as if a respirator is needed when working on a project.
When it comes to welding, there are many things to consider. The types of PPE you will need to wear is essential. Without them, you run the risk of getting hurt or burned. Often, your company will supply the PPE you need, but it is always a good idea to know what you should wear based on OSHA regulations so that you remain compliant and as safe as possible.
Using PPE, and wearing it properly, is vital to avoid unnecessary injury in the workplace. Choosing not to wear PPE can be dangerous, especially when it could save your life. Results Staffing always provides workers with necessary PPE unless otherwise noted. Never hesitate to ask temporary staffing agencies if they have the necessary PPE. Safety is important, and having an understanding of these various protection devices can help to prevent hazardous injury.