Welders’ Occupational Risks Include Chemical Exposure

Welders’ Occupational Risks Include Chemical Exposure 1

Welding has forever posed health and safety risks to laborers. But only in modern times have chemical vapors come to light as a dangerous threat – one that can prove deadly if not eliminated. Today, many industry employers are aware of the danger chemical exposure presents and use fume extraction as a method of removing harmful fumes from a worker’s breathing space.

For total worker protection, both physical and environmental safeguards need to be in place. Consider adopting the following measures:

Take ergonomics into account
While workers are regularly reminded to wear durable and flame-resistant clothing, which can include denim pants and welding jackets, they may not be aware of the significance of ergonomics as a factor in workplace safety, Industrial Safety & Hygiene News reported. Defined as fitting a job to a person, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, e​rgonomics can help keep workers safe by making sure their safety gear and equipment is well-suited for each individual worker. This includes fitting masks and protective clothing so they work properly.

Wear versatile protective equipment
Welding workers are exposed to various hazards from many sources. These can include sparks, radiation and fumes and gases, according to the American Welding Society. Since the American Welding Society recommends workers wear personal protective equipment to safeguard against these hazards, employers should make sure this equipment can protect against multiple hazards.

"Wear a fire-resistant welder's cap or other head covering under your helmet," the American Welding Society said. "It will protect your head and hair from flying sparks, spatter, burns and radiation."

Avoid dirty clothing that can pose a danger to workers
Workers are also advised to ensure their protective equipment and clothing are clean as dirty and oil splattered clothing could open them to other risks, such as fire hazards.

"Keep clothing clean (free of oil, grease, or solvents which may catch fire and burn easily)," the American Welding Society stated. "Keep it in good repair (no holes, tears, or frayed edges). Always follow the manufacturer's directions for their use, care, and maintenance."

Employ air purification solutions
OSHA recommends companies utilize local exhaust ventilation and general mechanical ventilation systems to protect workers from the hazardous fumes generated during welding work. Engineering controls like welding fume extraction equipment should be used to remove dangerous fumes before they reach workers' breathing space. 

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