Very large companies have a Safety Officer who is constantly going over safety issues; in fact, they’ll have a highly trained staff working in safety. But not every welding company is in need of a full time dedicated Safety Officer. Regardless of the size of the shop, the authorities expect a certain level of safety to be followed. You might be aware of minimizing the risks for the workers who are in that area. But do you have something in place for the workers who don’t often enter the welding area. This is where authorities can ask: what are you doing to protect the non-welders? You don’t have to be a large welding shop to have a welding related injury.
Here are the things that the Big Boys focus on, why they do it and how they solve the problem:
– Metal can look like its cold but is extremely hot.
– Where there’s welding, there’s sparks and chips flying everywhere. Some of these pieces can travel a long way from their origin. Not only can they travel but can find strange homes: open pockets or cuffs on a blouse.
– These hot pieces of metal can burn through thin soled shoes or land on open toed shoes. This kind of footwear might be appropriate in the office but not in the shop
– Use an alternate route
– If an alternate route isn’t practical, wear appropriate clothing when walking near or through welding areas
– When welding is finished, write HOT (or the time of the last weld) on the metal; if that’s not possible, treat everything as HOT.
– Welding can produce temperatures above 10,000° F. Metal can stay hot for more an hour or more. These are components that create a fire.
– And if there’s dust, in a poorly ventilated area, a stray spark can start a fire.
– Welders inspect their areas before and after welding
– Be aware that a fire can start within 30 minutes after someone has finished their welding
– Fire extinguisher is obvious but make sure the appropriate people know where it is – and how to use it. (This doesn’t need to be a scene from a horror movie)
-Sometimes the welder doesn’t move the cylinders; someone else is assigned the task. And that someone else is not familiar with moving and exchanging out cylinders.
– Besides knowing where the MT and FULL cylinders should go, they need to know how to transport the cylinders.
– How to cap the cylinders.
– How to release the pressure in the hoses and regulators
– How to separate the flammable gases from the oxygen
– Hot metal can travel far and take crazy routes.
– Most people know that they shouldn’t look at the welding arc, but not everyone knows that UV rays can travel in all directions.
– See through welding curtains are great for a number of reasons: (1) they block the UV rays (2) you can see what the welder is doing and (3) they help reduce some of the noise that welding produces.
– Safety glasses with side shields give extra protection from those stray sparks and chips.
– Creating a 20’ perimeter is helpful.
Welding fumes aren’t a straight forward problem. The welding process (stick/MIG/TIG) affect the amount of fumes generated. And the type of material being welded will determine the toxic level of fumes (stainless steel versus mild steel).
– Local exhaust will help a lot. It removes the fumes at the source. Filters them and puts them back into the air.
– Again, the welder maybe wearing proper respirators but the individuals walking through that area or working in the area won’t be thinking about the level of contamination. They need to be aware of the level of contamination.
The welding shop by nature creates a lot of noise: gouging and grinding.
– Work at reducing the noise level to an acceptable level. (You want to be proactive rather than reactive)
– Ear plugs are fine but it’s possible not to know how to put them on.
– A sign stating that Hearing Protection Needed
Signs are necessary but training is superior. Welders are cognizant of the hazards in their work area and know how to work safely. But non-welders rarely enter the welding area and may not understand why certain precautions are needed. Training identifies the risks and helps answer the “whys”, possibly making it easier to comply. It might even help the fork lift operator not put excess freight in front of the welding area.
If we can help you in these areas, please give us a call.