Welding joins metal or thermoplastic materials together by using heat and sometimes pressure to melt the material until it forms a strong joint. The many types of welding have common hazards such as fire, burns, electric shock, vision damage, and exposure to fumes.

Get training in the welding equipment and process you will use. Know the properties of the materials (and any coatings on them) that you are welding in order to take proper precautions. Weld only in designated areas that are screened, posted with warnings, and free from combustible and flammable materials.

Welding requires layers of PPE to prevent injuries. Don’t weld unless all of your body is covered with protective clothing to prevent burns from sparks, spattering materials, or radiation. Wear a fire-resistant welder’s cap that covers and protects your head and hair from burns. Wear insulated flame-resistant gloves. Don’t wear cuffed pants that could trap sparks. Wear leather aprons, leggings and/or gauntlets depending on your job task. Keep protective clothing dry and free from damage, tears, and holes and uncontaminated by grease, oil or solvents that could burn.

Protect your vision with a helmet that covers your face, forehead, ears and neck. It should be made of materials that will protect against radiant energy, flying sparks, and spatter. Use a filter lens with a shade designed for the welding type, electrode size, metal thickness, or welding current. Wear safety glasses with side shields or goggles underneath your helmet. Use filtered shades and barriers to protect yours and other’s vision. Never look at a flash, even for an instant.

Prevent hearing loss by wearing earplugs or muffs if there is loud shop noise or if the welding operation is loud. If you weld overhead or in other awkward positions, wear earplugs or muffs to prevent burns in your ear from sparks, spatter, and hot metal.

Avoid electric shock by wearing dry clothing for welding. Wear rubber soled shoes and use an insulating mat on surfaces that can conduct electricity. Don’t weld in wet areas or wet weather. Ground the welding equipment and metal being welded. Don’t change electrodes with your bare or wet hands.

Control your exposures to hazardous fumes. Welding smoke can irritate your eyes, nose, and respiratory system. Weld only in well-ventilated areas or near fume hoods. Keep your head away from fumes by staying back and to the side of the work. Don’t weld in confined spaces without ventilation. Use a respirator to control hazardous fumes.

Prevent fires and explosions. Clear your welding area of combustible and flammable materials. Check gas hoses for leaks. Don’t weld containers or materials that held or were contaminated with flammable materials. Designate a fire watch after welding work has occurred in a building or area to ensure there are no smoldering sparks. Dispose of waste metals and electrode butts in designated containers. Know the emergency evacuation plans and where firefighting equipment is located.

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