No matter what kind of welding you are doing, or where you are working, welding safety hazards and methods are universal. In this guide, you will find twelve tips to increase welding safety and increase employee productivity.
1. Read the manual. The manual that comes with your welding equipment contains detailed instructions and safety precautions that will help you operate the machine safely. Be sure everyone who uses the machine is familiar with the manual, and replace it if it is damaged or lost.
2. Wear the proper clothing. Exposed skin is vulnerable to painful and enduring effects of infrared and ultraviolet light. Sparks can hit loose clothing and open collars and pockets, smoldering unnoticed and causing burns. Button shirts completely, close pockets and cover exposed skin. Even the quickest welds require proper gear such as a helmet, boots and gloves.
3. Breathe carefully. Smoke and fumes from welding are toxic; when you are welding in an enclosed area, fumes can accumulate and remove oxygen from the air. Use a respirator when welding certain materials, and turn on the exhaust hood.
4. Don’t look at the light. It only takes a few seconds for the arc’s rays to cause “welder’s flash”, a very painful condition that can take hours or days afterward to appear. Wear a welding helmet with a filter shade, with the appropriate safety glasses and ear protection underneath.
5. Avoid stress injuries. Older-style welding helmets often have heavy hoods, meaning that the operator has to snap his or her head to lower the hood. Choose an auto-darkening helmet; it’s lighter and it can help you cut minutes off the length of your welding jobs.
6. Cut the clutter. Welding and equipment areas should be clean and clearly labeled, with a place for each tool and no unnecessary items present. Choose a scissoring table rather than one of fixed height—you and your workers can bring the work closer to you, rather than the other way around.
7. Motivate employees to be safer, and practice what you preach. Welding safety works best when it’s not labeled as a “program”; employees would be skeptical of such a program and would quickly lose interest. Instead, make safety a goal for yourself and everyone in your workplace. Rewards or incentives will help motivate your workers to continue their best safety practices. Conversely, there should also be consequences for safety violations.
Productivity is important, but even more vital is your safety and that of those who work with you. By learning how to properly operate your welding positioner, wearing the proper clothing, shoes and gear, and following the right safety protocols, you can boost your workplace’s productivity without undue risk.