If you're thinking of starting a job as a professional welder, good for you! Welding is a flexible and exciting career that has limitless opportunities and room for growth.
Before you start your first gig, it's important to take the time to learn about welding safety. After all, welding can be dangerous. But if you have the right knowledge and welding safety gear, you can protect yourself against any potential injuries.
Want to know more? You're in the right place.
Keep reading to learn about nine welding safety tips to keep in mind before any job. Let's get started!
1. Protect Your Eyes
Have you ever heard of flash burns or "arc eye"? This is a painful condition that occurs from exposure to a welding arc's strong rays.
When the UV rays hit the cornea, it causes intense inflammation. Symptoms of arc eye include blurred vision, irritation, bloodshot eyes, mild to severe pain, and more. You may not even know you have flash burns until hours after the exposure.
To protect your eyes, it's vital that you wear the proper welding safety glasses. Your safety helmet should have an attached shade as well. If possible, get a helmet with a shade that's auto-darkening.
Remember, even a moment of UV exposure can cause painful cornea damage. Cover your eyes at all times, even if you're not actively welding.
2. Read the Manual
An operating manual may sound like a boring read, but it's worth it. This manual breaks down common welding practices and safety information that will help you get the most out of the machines you use every day.
Can't find your manual? Don't stress.
Lots of manufacturers have copies online. And even if they don't, you can request an extra copy from them. Misplacing your operating manual is no longer a valid excuse for not reading it!
3. Avoid Repetitive Motion Injuries
Like any physically demanding career, welding can lead to stress on your body. Repetitive motions cause tons of different ailments like bursitis, tendinitis and muscle strains.
You can avoid these injuries by moving with awareness throughout the day. For example, you should try not to snap your neck forward to lower the hood on your helmet.
Over time, repetitive motions will cause painful and damaging muscle strain. Instead of trying to cut corners and save time, think about taking care of your body. Take breaks to stretch throughout the day and remember to use safe lifting techniques when working with heavy objects.
4. Try a Boom-Mounted Wire Feeder
Boom-mounted wire feeders make welding more efficient, flexible, safe, and comfortable. If you plan on achieving a heavy production flow, this is an ideal setup for you. Here's how they work.
A twelve or sixteen-foot boom houses the wire feeder controls and the drive assembly. It rotates in a complete circle and moves up and down sixty degrees, creating a comfortable work area diameter. Once the operator chooses the position, a counterbalance keeps the boom in place.
Wire feeders reduce the risk of tripping on cables by taking them off the floor completely.
5. Keep Your Welding Area Tidy
A cluttered work area isn't just bad for your mental health. It's also a safety hazard.
Make sure that each tool and piece of equipment has a label and a safe storage place. The area where you weld should only have the items that you need for the task at hand. De-cluttering your workspace will prevent accidents and injuries.
6. Make Sure to Avoid Fumes
Welding releases dangerous fumes. If you're welding in a confined area, smoke and fumes can infect the air you breathe.
To avoid inhaling these toxins, check that your welding in a breathable space. You can use an exhaust hood to filter out fumes if needed.
And remember, different kinds of welding create different kinds of fumes. Read up on the materials and equipment you're using.
7. Cover Up
Welding creates infrared rays, ultraviolet rays, and sparks. These things are not nice to human skin.
So, even if you're welding on a hot summer day, you need to wear clothing that covers your entire body. This means no short sleeves or short pants allowed.
You'll also need boots or tall leather shoes to protect your feet. And make sure you don't have any loose ends, cuffs, or gaping pockets. If you're a smoker, leave your matches or lighters in your car.
A fire-resistant shirt is also a must-have. This will protect your upper body from flying sparks. Shop here for a quality fire-resistant shirt.
8. Speak Up
Even if this is your first welding job, it's important to speak up about work procedures that could be safer. Because if no one ever points them out, they'll never change. And that's how people get hurt.
If you have an idea about how to make your workplace safer, contact your manager to make a difference. They'll appreciate it!
9. Make Welding Safety a Habit
Using welding safety equipment should be a habit, not a chore. We all know what it feels like to attend those boring staff meetings where a manager asks everyone to read a few safety pamphlets that promptly get thrown in the trash.
But when it comes to welding, safety shouldn't get tossed to the side. Remind yourself to wear the proper protective gear and use the right safety equipment until it becomes second nature.
Encourage your coworkers by gently reminding them when you see them engage in unsafe practices. By taking an active part in creating a safe workplace environment, you can prevent injuries and help your company become the best it can be.
The Bottom Line
Welding is an exciting and flexible job. But, if you want to have a long career as a welder, it's important to familiarize yourself with welding safety right away.
Before your first job, reference the tips above to prevent any injuries. For the best results, remember to cover up with protective gear from head to toe. Make welding safety a habit for yourself and your coworkers.
Want to learn more? Keep reading our blog for more interesting tips and tricks.