Welding work is common in industry and construction. However, this activity involves quite a few risks. Consider the risk of burns, electrocution, and radiation. Therefore, the adoption of protective measures is necessary to prevent hazards in welding. In this article, we will teach you what you need to know about safe welding and general safety precautions:
Welding And Cutting Rules
As with any other hazardous activity, the employer must take safety measures when performing welding work. In this regard, the latter is responsible for selecting, proper use, proper maintenance and timely replacement of work clothing. The CEN/TR 15321:2006 standard sets out a series of provisions in this area. This European directive is also referred to by the acronym SUCAM, which stands for: Selection, Use, Care and Maintenance of protective clothing.
In other words, the employer must ensure the constant availability of suitable personal protective equipment. Besides, this protective equipment must comply with the provisions of standard EN-ISO 11611. For welding work presenting additional risks such as arc welding operations, this clothing must also comply with the standard.
So much for the regulation, now let’s get down to business. What protective equipment will you need to weld safely?
Below is the various personal protective equipment that must be worn during welding.
Protective Welding Clothing
The requirements for welding clothing are set out in standard EN-ISO 11611 (formerly EN 470-1). Clothing that meets this standard protects the welder against sparks, projections, UV radiation and accidental contact with flame. The EN-ISO 11611 standard distinguishes between two classes of welding clothing:
Class 1: clothing designed for welding techniques characterized by the restricted production of droplets or projections of molten metal. Examples: TIG, MIG, gas, microplasma, or spot welding and arc welding using rutile coated electrodes;
Class 2: clothing designed for heavy and dangerous welding techniques characterized by the massive production of droplets and projections of molten metal. Examples: MAG, MIG high flux or electric arc welding, plasma jet cutting, flame gouging, flame cutting and arc welding using cellulose coated electrodes. These clothes are also mandatory for welding work carried out in confined spaces awkward postures.
During any welding operation, work clothing must fulfil the following mission: protect the welder by allowing him sufficient freedom of movement. Finally, sparks and welding spatter can cause severe burns. As protective clothing, consider a welding suit, a welding apron, leather sleeves, and a welding cap to wear under your helmet. Make sure that your clothing is sufficiently covered to prevent the ingress of sparks.
Sufficient eye protection is essential for safe welding. The goggles, masks and helmets welding are part of this eye protection equipment. Welding screens must comply with the following three standards:
EN 175: standard governing welding helmets and screens and encompassing standards for eye and face protection during welding operations and related techniques;
EN 169: standard governing welding filters and related techniques and applying among other things to welding glasses;
EN 379: standard governing automatic filter glasses.
In autogenous welding work, wearing welding goggles with side shields generally provides sufficient protection. In MIG / MAG welding, a welding helmet or a full face mask is essential. When selecting a welding mask, it is recommended that you opt for a lightweight model with a practical headband. In addition to protecting the welder from sparks, this mask reduces the risk of inhaling welding fumes. Make sure that welding goggles, shields and helmets are fitted with dark welding lenses.
The welding gloves need to be heat resistant. This is why these gloves are often woven from Kevlar yarns. In addition to standard welding gloves, some models have a reinforced thumb and/or long cuffs. These gloves protect the welder’s hands and forearms from heat and sparks.
When selecting a pair of welder’s gloves, one cannot stick exclusively to the nature of the work; it is also necessary to ensure that their size is adapted to the morphology of the welder. An incorrect size will not fail to increase the arduousness and the dangerousness of the work.
Work shoes are often unsuitable for performing welding work. For this reason, it is recommended to opt for welder shoes that are heat resistant and provide satisfactory protection against sparks. Did you know, for example, that the soles of these shoes withstand short-term contact with a material heated to 300° C. Besides, the laces have given way to a hook-and-loop closure.
Other Protections During Welding
As mentioned earlier, the wearing of other protective equipment may be compulsory in addition to the PPE. Wearing hearing protection is therefore mandatory during arc welding, flame cutting and gouging work. Respiratory protection is also essential in rooms with insufficient ventilation or a suction system. If welding work is carried out at height, appropriate means of protection must be provided and measures are taken to prevent the risk of falling. Consider wearing a fall arrest harness and installing guardrails.
Protect Your Environment By Installing A Welding Screen
When welding, you must also protect your working environment. In fact, passers-by risk being hit by suspended sparks. This can be remedied by installing a welding screen. When selecting a welding shield, care must be taken to ensure that it is suitable for ambient conditions.
If the planned work involves welding outside, installing an opaque heat-resistant tent is a good option. If the planned work involves carrying out internal welds requiring local protection, installing a mobile welding screen with a tight curtain is an attractive option.