If you are in the automotive, roads and fuel industry, chances are, like many of our AICC program members, you have a welding operation on site. Certified welders will have gone through mandatory training courses on safe work practices, but it’s important that any employee working around a welding operation take precautions to avoid injury.
Anyone working near a welding operation may encounter any of these hazards:
- Excessive Noise
- Fire or Excessive Heat
- Electrical Shock
- Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation
Each of these hazards can result in an employee injury. As a shop foreman, HR manager, or Health and Safety manager, encourage your employees to take the following precautions to protect themselves against these potential hazards.
Protection From Excessive Noise Hazards
- Include a noise evaluation in the routine safety evaluation for every job with the potential for noise exposure.
- Wear proper hearing protection if the noise level exceeds regulatory standards (90 decibels or above).
- Always use proper hearing protection. Not every type is suitable for every situation. (Hearing loss happens gradually and very little can be done to restore hearing once it's damaged, so even if no hearing loss has been experienced, maintaining appropriate protection is still important.)
- Report any noise level concerns.
Protection From Fire and Excessive Heat Hazards
- Follow all regulatory requirements. If welding is done in an area where a fire hazard exists, a permit should be used in accordance with established procedures. These permits may also be called “hot work permits.”
- Post a trained fire watch during and after the welding job. Combustible and flammable materials must be cleared from the welding area. A spark or a piece of hot slag could easily ignite these materials and cause a fire.
- Wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as aprons, gloves, leggings, and footwear to protect yourself from these sparks and pieces of slag.
Protection From Electrical Shock Hazards
- Inspect your welding equipment thoroughly before use.
- Be alert for loose connections and damaged components.
- Check that electrical equipment is grounded properly each time it is used.
Protection From Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation Hazards
- Wear welding hoods and welding goggles with UV filter lenses and side shields, which are designed to protect your eyes and face from UV exposure. Equipment is now available that adjusts automatically so that filter changes are not required.
- Use appropriate gloves and aprons to protect exposed skin.
- Use welding curtains to protect others in the vicinity of the welding area.
Note: This equipment must be used faithfully for every welding job in order to prevent UV burns. Flashburns to the eyes are extremely painful and can cause permanent damage, including blindness. It’s important to follow all company policies for using PPE to prevent injuries such as hearing loss and UV burns. Correct any situations that may pose a fire or electrical shock hazard. If you do have a safety concern about welding hazards, report it to your supervisor or your company's safety training department.
Check out our blog for more safety tips and workplace best practices for the automotive industry.