No matter what industry you work in, accidents can, and often do, happen. This is true of welders, who are susceptible to radiation burns and arc eye, which is why there are several types of personal protection that every welder should have access to. Whether you are renting equipment for a one-off DIY welding job or looking at a career in welding, never start a fabrication job unless you have everything you need on hand to protect your skin and eyes.
When Other Workers Are in the Vicinity
The one thing that many welders don’t consider is the impact arc welding has on co-workers working in close proximity. You might be protected but stray sparks, intense ultra violet, infrared and ultra-bright light emitted from the welding process can cause arc eye or burns to a third party. If you are working on a fabrication job where other workers will be close by, make sure you have a welding screen to contain the work, and look at some mobile fume extraction to take away as much weld fume at source as possible.
It goes without saying that your eyes are the most sensitive part of your body, and the possibility of sustaining arc eye is very real. Because of this, welding masks such as those featured at Foster Industrial are an absolute must-have, as the welding lens filters out harmful UV and IR rays. Your eyes can suffer arc eye when exposed to the intense light that the welding arc emits, if even for a moment. Arc eye can be extremely painful and potentially lead to hospitalisation. Welding helmets provide protection against impact too, with many masks now offering a grind-only feature, allowing the operator to grind and weld utilising the same headtop. Indeed, welding filter science is constantly evolving, with ‘True-view’ technology allowing the operator more clarity, colour and contrast when viewing the job through the lens in its light state. This means the welder doesn’t need to constantly lift their headtop to inspect the work.
Gloves and Protective Attire
Again, sparks fly when welding, and as the welding arc generates extreme heat, radiation burns can easily be sustained. You will never see professional welders begin fabricating without adequate welding gloves and flameproof overalls. They know all too well just how quickly they can be burnt if sparks go down the back of the neck or through a welder’s gauntlet. Molten metal on skin can be extremely painful and cause scarring. If you’re serious about protecting yourself from burns, ensure that your welding gauntlets are double-palmed and Kevlar-stitched for durability, and invest in a flameproof hood with a cape, so sparks don’t drop down your collar.
Shoes to Consider
Leather shoes are a must, and not just any leather shoes will do. It is recommended that you wear shoes that extend up above the ankle by at least 6 inches (15 centimetres) for the best protection. Thick leather work boots are ideal for this kind of work. Never buy faux leather because synthetic materials melt almost immediately when exposed to hot sparks and you could end up with 3rd degree burns if you are not careful.
You may be trying to save money on a DIY welding project, and that is all well and good. Just know that you need to be well and good yourself, and that means protecting your eyes from ultra-bright lights and your body from burns resulting from stray sparks. As the old saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry.