The welding cowboys might say, “No guts, no glory,” when it comes to the dangers of the job, but anyone serious about a fitter welding career should be concerned about safety. It’s important to be aware of common welding injuries and how to avoid them. Smart welders take proper precautions, and responsible steel fabricators like LeJeune Steel expect them to.
See the Danger
Injuries to the eyes are among the most common concerns:
- Welder’s flash, arc eye or flash burn – caused by Ultraviolet (UV) and Infrared (IR) light (radiation) from the welding arc. UV affects the eye like a bad sunburn, but you probably won’t notice for a couple of hours. IR feels like intense heat as it scorches the retina and eventually causes cataracts. Radiation exposure is painful, will cost you a doctor’s visit and workdays.
- Sparks and hot metal drops/particles saturating the air
- Improper head distance from welders arc.
Minimize eye dangers by:
- Using the proper eye protection, meaning goggles and a welding hood.
- The lens shade in a welder’s hood dims the light, but it comes in filter strengths from 8-13. Use what’s best for the amperage.
- Use welding blinds to manage airborne dangers.
- Keep your head a safe distance from the arc. Use helper glasses inside the welding hood if necessary, to magnify your work surface.
Hear the Danger
If you can’t hear the guy standing next to you talking, then your ears and hearing may be vulnerable to common welding injuries:
- Flying debris and particles- penetrate and attack the ear canals
- Excessive noise (above 85 decibels averaged during 8-hour workday). That’s about as loud as a bull-dozer idling.
- Ultra high-pitched, sustained noise damages the eardrums and inner ear.
- Possible hearing loss
Minimize hearing dangers by:
- Wearing earplugs or earmuffs
- Avoid spending long periods of time in excessive noise
- Sound barriers
- Regular hearing test
A Nose for Trouble
In the shop, you may not always be aware of what’s going up your nose and in your mouth but you should be on guard:
- Inhaling toxic fumes from welding, such as paint, solvent residue and smoke.
- Inhaling chemicals like Manganese, found in welding rods, electrodes and wire.
- Causes a debilitating illness known as “Welder’s Parkinson’s.”
- Chronic respiratory illnesses, due to inhaling metallic or mineral particles, such as iron oxide.
Minimize breathing dangers with:
- Proper ventilation in work areas can wick away many fumes.
- Proper respirators should be worn for prolonged and specialized welding.
There are plenty of other issues to be concerned about including:
- Burns from flare-ups, improper torch lighting, improperly handled flammable materials or accidentally touching items that are still hot.
- Lifting heavy items without the proper posture or assistance.
- Repetitive motions such as grinding and brazing can lead to nerve and tendon damage. Use anti-vibration gloves, or adjustable vibration damping handles to reduce the motion.
- UV radiation can also burn the skin, so wear the right gloves and clothing. That includes safety shoes because sparks and hot metal can spill onto the floor.
Focus on Safety
Follow industry, company and personal safety guidelines. Top fabrication companies like LeJeune Steel (LSC) take safety seriously. They offer in-house training because they value their workers and it’s good for the business bottom line.
Let’s face it, welding is not work for the frail or faint of heart, but you don’t need to be the INCREDIBLE HULK in order to avoid the most common welding injuries, while enjoying a long safe career.
For more than 70 years, LeJeune Steel has been an industry leader in steel fabrication. Since 1944, we have grown to become one of the largest structural steel fabricators in the Midwest, with more than 40,000 tons of steel fabricated annually by our shops in Minnesota and Wisconsin.