You’ve seen a lot of them in the past. It’s not unlikely that you’ve passed one or two of them while you’re on your way to work. Maybe for some of you, going to work means seeing them up close while they join metals or thermoplastics. You might have seen them standing on scaffolds or squatting on platforms just heating the day away with their tools.
Welders perform one of the industry’s most dangerous tasks. Just imagine working close to heat for long hours each day. As if that’s not enough, the danger of blinding yourself on the job is very high with the sparks all flying from the heating tool.
But the greatest hazard that comes with welding is fire. Besides having the ability to burn a worker alive, welding can turn a building to ash in a matter of minutes. But with proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and training, a welder can’t go wrong in ensuring fire safety while performing his tasks on the job.
Like any task on the job, welding requires you to wear proper PPE. Normal attire is usually flammable and fire is the first thing you want to avoid here. So wear that flame-resistant clothing. You’ll be fine with a tightly woven shirt and denim pants. But there’s nothing like wearing a jacket specially made for welding. If you find it hot and too heavy, you’ll be glad to know that a lot of welding jackets out there are lighter but still flame-resistant.
Of course a welding PPE is not enough without a good pair of heat-resistant gloves. Thanks to advancements in technology, welding gloves now come in different designs made specifically for specific welding processes. Some of them include TIG gloves, heavy-duty MIG/stick gloves and medium-duty MIG gloves.
Leave your tennis shoes and cowboy boots at home. Go for high-top leather boots or shoes that are (again) specially designed for welding. You’ll thank yourself you left your fashion sense at home once you realize how many smoldering treats your feet miss from that welding tool.
Welding is always seeing the world at a different perspective. This can never be more true than with your protective helmets and/or face shields. You know why you need them so wear them! You can even go the extra mile by donning auto-darkening helmets. Such helmets have lens that automatically darken as a way of adjusting to the brightness of the sparks.
Fatigue and too much heat can be your gateway to accidents. While it’s helpful to divide your task into segments by taking breaks, you might want to consider wearing a respirator. This is a decision you and your employer must discuss, especially if you think that your work area has poor ventilation.
Welding Safety Measures
Here are some more welding safety measures you must follow to prevent fire and other accidents because of welding:
- Always work with a hot work permit.
This is a permit you secure before doing welding operations on the job. A competent person inspects the work area and notes down all the precautions you have to take. The written permit serves as your guide to prevent hazards while welding.
- Get rid of clutter.
Your work area must only have room for equipment and tools needed in the workplace. The rest should go as they may cause accidents like tripping and even fire if they’re highly flammable.
- Have a fire watch with you.
In some occasions, you need to have a fire watch with you while you perform your task. This is often the case if a lot of flammable materials are present in the work area. The fire watch or firewatcher’s job is basically to watch for fires while you weld. They are assigned to sound the fire alarm and use the fire extinguisher in the event of fire. They must stick around and guard the work area for at least 30 minutes after the welding job is done.