an image of a welder wearing the correct PPE for a structural welding environment

The Risks Involved with Structural Welding

Welding is a dangerous industry, and with there being various risks and hazards involved, it’s important to understand how these can be combated and the health and safety of employees protected.

Here at Arc Welding Services, we are experienced in the welding industry, so we have detailed some of the most important aspects of structural welding safety in this blog.

Electric Shocks

Perhaps one of the most prevalent risks in structural welding, electric shocks can cause serious injury or death. Most commonly, an electric shock occurs during a weld when the welder touches two metals that have a voltage between them, which means they become a part of the circuit and the electric current runs through them. This is most likely to happen due to a secondary voltage shock from an arc weld, which can be between 20 and 100 volts.

The potential for injury with an electric shock can come from the electric shock itself, where less than 50 volts can result in death, or the subsequent fall or injury as a ramification of this literal shock to the system, causing to fall from the work position or otherwise.

Prevention of this can come from taking special care when welding, and to also wear the correct PPE. Dry, leather gloves are ideal for preventing these shocks, and the electrode should never be touched with wet clothes or bare skin.

Fire and Explosions

Naturally, welding arcs are extremely hot, reaching over 5000 degrees Celsius. However, the main source of danger in terms of heat comes from the spatter, or the sparks and debris. Spatter can reach up to 35 ft away and this can lead to burns or the ignition of fire from flammable materials in the vicinity.

To protect the health and safety of employees from fire and explosions in structural welding, the main precaution is to prepare in order to prevent. This can include the security of clearing the work area – within a 35 ft radius – of flammable materials, including gasoline, oil, paper, and propane.

There is also the case of keeping procedures closeby that can help eradicate a fire in the unfortunate event, this can be in the form of extinguishers, fire resistant mats and blankets, and a fire watcher.

Fumes and Gases

Welding fumes can contain harmful compounds that are detrimental to welders’ health if ingested. This means that employers are required to provide proper ventilation – whether in the form of fan, exhaust, or other ventilation systems.

Employees should wear an approved respiration whenever necessary, which is to be judged by an industrial hygienist who takes an air sample and will make the necessary recommendation.

Proper Prevention is Paramount

Essentially, the best form of protecting the health and safety of welders in a structural welding environment is to reduce the eventuality of an incident with proper preparation and precaution. This can be the form of the proper PPE, risk assessments, understanding the proper working procedures, and keeping the correct, maintained equipment in place at all times.

Arc Welding Services

Here at Arc Welding Services, we provide a range of welding equipment for hire and purchase throughout Birmingham. If you’d like to hear more about what we can do for you, please get in touch by calling us on 0121 327 2249 or filling out our simple contact form.