Welding is a processes in which materials are joined through the application of heat at extremely high melting points. There are two types of welding: one is pressure welding and the other is fusion welding. Fusion welding is broken up into three types: electric arc welding, gas welding and thermit welding.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that more than 500,000 workers are injured each year in welding accidents. In consideration of this high number of injuries, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has created many regulations that are designed to protect welders. Although welding practices must adhere to important state and federal law, welding accidents can result in serious injuries and even fatalities. While welding workers must always make sure to follow safety guidelines, there is still a risk of serious injury resulting even if all safety measures are followed.
Toxic Fume Exposure
Employers are responsible for providing their welders with a safe, healthy workplace, including reducing exposure to toxic fumes, gases, and materials used in welding, including:
- Hexavalent Chromium: Hexavalent Chromium(Cr(VI)) is a byproduct of welding. It is a dangerous and toxic gas that can cause lung cancer, asthma and damage to the eyes, skin, throat and nasal passages. OSHA’s Chromium (VI) safety standard is 29 CFR 1910.1026 and 1926.1126 and its main purpose is to reduce the welder’s exposure to this toxic fume. Roughly 500,000 workers are exposed to Chromium.
- Manganese: Manganese is a byproduct of welding carbon steel. Manganese is primarily produced during Shielded Metal Arc Welding, or stick welding. Prolonged exposure to Manganese can cause brain damage, erectile dysfunction and tremors.
Employers need to provide respirators and make sure ventilation systems and fume extraction systems are in place in order to properly clear the surrounding air of toxic fumes. Welders can limit cross ventilation problems by properly positioning their body.
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Employers are required to have a written respiratory protection program in place. The plan has to identify the type of respirator (air-purifying or atmosphere-supplying) and model respirator the employer has selected for the employees. Employees need to undergo a medical evaluation in order to confirm they are physically capable of wearing the respirator. The employer must also hold emergency drills, and establish and monitor a schedule for cleaning, replacing and maintaining the respirators.
OSHA’s welding fire safety standard is covered in 1910.252 (a)(2)(iii)(B). According to the standard designated fire watchers have to be selected and trained to use fire extinguishing equipment that is made readily available. They need to know how to sound the fire alarm in order to clear the building and alert the fire department. They need watch for fires in all exposed areas, and try to extinguish them if it is within the capacity of the equipment available. A fire watch needs to continue for at-least for at least a half hour after welding operations have been finished in order to detect and extinguish any smoldering fires.
UV rays and sparks that are produced during arc welding can seriously burn exposed skin. Proper welding gloves are required to prevent a welding burn injury. Welders should not wear clothes made of synthetic fibers as they are easily combustible. A leather work jacket or apron can also protect against sparks. Employers should make sure the work area is clear of all combustible items like rugs and saw dust and flammable chemicals and liquids.
Welder’s Flash Eye Injury
Welding creates a bright ultraviolet (UV) light that is so powerful that it can burn the cornea which is the thin tissue that covers the outside of the eye. Corneal flash burns can be prevented by selecting the appropriate lens for the welding helmet or visor. Arc welding requires a #12 filter lens to ensure the eye is fully protected against welding flash burns and eye injuries.
There are numerous ways in which welding can be performed. Welding involves the combination of gas, high temperatures, and melting pieces of metal together. Some of the most common types of welding including the following:
- Acetylene welding
- Electric arc welding
- Electron beams
- Laser beams
- Stick welding
- Tungsten Inert Gas
Safety Tips for Preventing Welding Accidents
There are certain guidelines that workers can follow to stay as safe as possible when welding. These guidelines include the following:
- Adequate inspection and maintenance of equipment.
- Proper ventilation to prevent the inhalation of hazardous chemicals.
- Safe distance should be maintained between the welder and the rest of the construction crew.
- Sufficient eye protection, a full face shield, and thick glove should be worn. s
- A welding torch should be angled so that there are as few errant emissions as possible.
- Workers should receive adequate training on how to handle welding materials.
If You’ve Been Injured in a Welding Accident, Talk to a Lawyer For Free
If you or a loved one is injured in a welding accident, it is a wise idea to retain the assistance of the skilled Boston Work Injury Lawyer. Do not hesitate to contact the Massachusetts Work Accident Attorneys at The Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan today. Our group of Boston Welder Accident Workers’ Comp Firm with over 35 years of legal experience. Our legal counsel has helped individuals who have been injured in a number of work site accidents. Call our Brockton workers’ compensation lawyer today for a free consultation.
Our Massachusetts Injured Welder Attorney represents the residents of Plymouth County including Brockton, Plymouth, Bridgewater, Marshfield, Hingham, Duxbury, Wareham, Abington, Rockland, Whitman, Hanson, Middleborough; Norfolk County including Quincy, Stoughton, Dedham, Weymouth, Braintree, Avon, Holbrook, Randolph, Canton, Sharon, Brookline, Franklin; Bristol County including New Bedford, Fall River, Taunton, Attleboro, Mansfield, Easton, Raynham, Norton; Cape Cod, Falmouth, Barnstable and the Greater Boston area including Cambridge, Lynn, Revere, Everett, Lawrence, Dorchester, Roxbury and Somerville.