Arc Welding Safety - how to safely install and use an arc welder
Do you know the dangers associated with arc welding equipment?
Do you know how to identify hazards related to your operation? Arc welding
equipment may not be designed to operate safely in damp, rainy and windy
weather, or in the presence of flammable vapors or gasses, corrosive fumes,
dirt, or dust.
Flash Burns from Arc Welding
The most common injuries due to welding are flash burns, caused by the
ultraviolet light produced by the arc. A flash burn is like a sunburn of the
outer surface of the eye.
You do not have to be looking at the arc to get flash burns. If the UV light
can reach your eye, even from the side, you will get burned; it often happens to
people working near the welder. You do not need dark glasses to prevent flash
burns! Clear polycarbonate safety glasses with side shields will stop all
ultraviolet light. Anyone within 20 feet of a welding arc should be wearing
safety glasses or shielded by an opaque barrier. Remember, it's not whether you
can see the arc - it's whether the arc can see you.
Arc Welder Retinal Burns
The welding arc also produces intense visible light and heat, which is
focused on the back of the eye by the lens and can cause blindness in someone
staring directly at the arc. That's why the welder needs a hood with a dark
lens. Unfortunately that can make it hard to see what you're doing, so people
tend to "cheat", lifting up the hood while striking the arc, resulting in flash
burns and occasionally pieces of slag in their eyes. The best solution is the
electrically tinted hood lens, but if you don't have one available use a lens
dark enough to reduce the arc to a comfortable brightness and use a bright light
to illuminate the work area so you can see it through the lens. If you cheat,
you'll eventually get burned!
Wet welding equipment - prevent electrocution
Wet equipment or wet welders spell disaster. Wet equipment should be dried
off, but only after the power source has been disconnected. Before using welding
cables, check the insulation and lead cables for exposed conductors. Replace all
welding leads spliced within ten feet of the holder. To reduce the chance of
shock, check the electrode holders for loose or exposed connections. If
metal-inert-gas welding is used, examine the gas hose for leaks. Never coil or
loop electrode cable around any part of your body.
Be sure the welding machine frame is properly grounded, and double-check the
grounding connections. Never use pipelines carrying gases or flammable liquids
or conduits carrying electrical conductors as grounds. Don't ground to a
building structure that is a great distance from the weld. never weld on a load
suspended from a crane or hoist if the wire rope or hoist chain can become a
path for even part of the current flowing from the arc back to the welder; the
current will heat the rope or chain and seriously weaken it without leaving
visible damage. It may break under load years later, perhaps with fatal results.
If you must weld a suspended work piece run grounding cables from the work
pieces on both sides of the weld to the same ground as the welder and use a
nonconductive sling rated for the load.
Wet floors are dangerous and can cause electrical shock. Make sure the
insulation is sufficient on higher open-circuit voltage. If you are AC welding
under wet conditions, including perspiration, be sure to have an automatic
control to reduce the no-load voltage; this prevents electrical shock.
Do not change the polarity switch when your machine is under load. Arcing
because of high current can burn the switch contact surface and can seriously
burn you. Make sure there is a power disconnect switch on the welding machine;
this switch shuts down the machine immediately in an emergency.
Electrode holders should be stored where they cannot make contact with
personnel, conductors, fuels or compressed gas tanks. If you are not going to be
welding for a few minutes, disconnect the power source and remove the
Never strike an arc on a gas cylinder. Always keep electrodes and their holders
and any other live parts away from gas cylinders.