12.122 Radiation protection
(1) Arc welding must not be carried out unless workers who may be exposed to radiation from the arc flash are protected by adequate screens, curtains or partitions or wear suitable eye protection.
(2) A screen, curtain or partition near an arc welding operation must be made of or be treated with a flame resistant material or coating, and must have a nonreflective surface finish.
Note: 12 m (40 ft) is the recommended minimum distance from which an electric welding arc should be seen by the unprotected eye.
One of the best messages environmentalists teaches business is thinking about how your work is affecting its surrounding environment. Despite your good intentions or the way business has been conducted in the past, you might find your work is affecting the welfare of others and creating unintended costs.Those costs could eat up whatever profit you make, and/or worse, put you out of business. So smart business is attending to those unintended consequences.
The welding curtain is a good environmental choice. It is protecting the workers who are working around the welding. Plus it’s creating a better and safer working environment for the welder.
We know electric arc welding creates 3 powerful forms of radiation: infrared, visible and ultra violet. Infrared radiation (it’s perceived as heat) is not visible to the eye. Its rays go further than visible light. It has the ability to damage the cornea (the surface of the eye). Extreme cases, the overheating of the eye will lead to cataract formation.
Visible light is the light you can see. The damage it can do is to the retina: the sensing area of the eye. It’s been thought welders who allow themselves over time to be exposed to the bright light could have trouble adjusting to extreme levels of light.
The last form of radiation, ultra violet (UV) is the most known and feared of welders. The cornea absorbs the UV. The problem is the cornea can absorb a lot of UV in a very short time. This prolonged absorption of UV leads to “welders flash”. It is akin to having sunburn on your eyeball. Your eyeball usually heals within 12 or 24 hrs but it can be a painful process. The sucker punch in UV is it is accumulative and increased by the power of the welding arc. Example: TIG welding Mild Steel with Helium at 250 Amps, 5 feet away from the welding, maximum exposure in 8 hr, 4.4 seconds.
The original welding curtain was usually a solid partition that isolated the welder. The Transparent Welding Curtain (TWC) is the answer for a more environmentally friendly welding curtain. TWC are not going to reduce the UV to Zero exposure. But the TWC gives a certain level of protection to workers around the welding area. Plus, it gives some safety for the welder: he can see the work flow around him (eg the forklift or crane going by) so he’s not stepping out in front of dangerous traffic. It’s providing more light on his work. Probably most important, he is visible to his co-workers who are able to come to his aid if he finds himself in distress and is not able to call out for help (eg. Heart attack).
Welding curtains are just one of the tools available to management to create a safe working environment for all.