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The Top Threats for Welders Today

Welding operations can have hazardous effects. Here are the risk factors and safety precautions.

Electric Shock– This is the most common risk during the arc welding process.  Live electric circuits are used to create molten metal. Contact with metal parts which are electrically charged can cause injury or death because of the shock affect upon the body or a fall as a result of the reaction to the shock.

Voltage shocks are divided into two categories:

  • Primary voltage shock – occurs by touching a lead inside the welding equipment with power on while when one hand or body touches the welding equipment case or other ground metal.
  • Secondary voltage shock – occurs when touching part of the electrode of the circuit or the bare spot on the electrode cable & another part of the body touches both sides of the welding circuit at the same time.

Electric shock precaution tips:

  • Work on damp conditions (Do not touch the electrode or metal parts of the electrode holder with skin or wet clothing). Keep dry insulation between the bodies. Metals should be welded on dry floor. Use plywood, rubber mats or other dry insulation to stand or lay upon.
  • Welding cables and electrode holders should be in good condition. Electrode cable should be repaired and secured using electrical tape.
  • Ask for an electrician to connect the wire from the primary voltage and connect the case to an earth ground. The ground allows a fuse to blow if a problem develops inside the welding equipment.

 Arc Rays – It is important to protect eyes from radiation Infrared radiation can cause retinal burning and cataracts. A brief exposure to UV radiation can cause an eye burn known as “welder’s flash.” Normally, welder’s flash is temporary, but repeated or prolonged exposure can lead to permanent eye injury. One will also feel extreme discomfort and eye swelling, fluid excretion and temporary blindness.

The best way to completely shade against arc radiation is helmet-type shields or hand-held face shields. Hard plastic or fiberglass shields protect the head, face, ears and neck from electric shock, heat, sparks and flames.

Also, use safety glasses with side shields or goggles to protect eyes from flying particles.

Fires and explosions– The welder should be aware of the increased temperatures when welding. The heat of the welding arc can reach up to 10,000° F but the danger itself comes from the intense heat during work through the forms of sparks and molten metals. The welder should keep the distance from the combustible materials.

Look for flammable coatings, fine dust particles or any unknown substances that would ignite when heated. Combustible substances should be move or put a fire-resistant shield in place.

Workplace should have fire alarms & fire extinguishers and/or use alternative fire-fighting equipment like fire hoses, sand buckets, & fire-resistant blankets.

Exposure to Fumes and Gases- Welders are exposed to invisible gaseous fumes, including nitrogen oxides, chromium and other harmful gases which easily penetrate into the body. Exposure to these gases will result to headaches, chest pains, irritation of the eyes, & itchiness in the nose, throat & severe illnesses such as pneumonia, asthma, cancer & metal fume fever. To reduce the risk; first keep the head out of the fume plume, use mechanical ventilation or local exhaust at the arc to direct the fume plume away from the face. If this is not enough, use fixed or moveable exhaust hoods to draw the fume from the general area.

Noise Hazards- Welders are prone to loud noise. A loud noise is considered to be 85 dB (A) & in welding activities noise levels are over 100 dB (A). This can be very damaging to the ears which can result in hearing impairment, tinnitus, vertigo, increase in heart rate & blood pressure. One should wear ear plus or muffs to protect the ear drums from the noise.

Below is a picture of a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). You can find all of these items at fireflywelding.org.

 

  If these guidelines are followed by the company, accidents aren’t likely to happen.

 

So it’s Mother’s Day…

As an ex-addict who once-upon-a-time abandoned her kids to be that way. This day is hard for me. I have my youngest sons who are 15 & 16 for which I’m grateful, (most of the time). They are great kids, except for when they’re not. As I move through life I will always be working to prove that I’ve left the crazy behind. Maybe until I’m 90 if I make it that long. It’s exhausting trying to catch up with 20 years of irresponsibility. Everyone remembers the worst of it for them. And they all rightfully blame me for their pain. But what they don’t know is that every minute of every day as a homeless drug addict was a punishment. If they wanted me to suffer.. well I did. But I’m not suffering in the same way now.. it’s so different this pain that guilt causes. Maybe it’s me that won’t allow myself to enjoy Mother’s Day. Maybe one day I will. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms who feel like they deserve it.

I was a heroin addict in Puerto Rico for almost 10 years. Looking back on that time I realize that I have a deeper understanding of everything. I got to see the best of people and the worst of them- there was no middle ground. Well, maybe my peers were the middle ground. They weren’t good or bad – they just were. They were the only people on the planet who understood me perfectly, as I did them. None of us were bad people, we were just caught up in a sickness that disguises itself as a personal choice. It’s horrible to know you are a waste of space, a bother to everyone, a drug addict, and it’s all your own fault. To combat those guilty feelings though, there’s heroine. It didn’t matter what you did to who… it would go away instantly whenever you used. So we used often. Now, years later, I always have a little voice in my head whenever I go through tough times. It whispers to me that even though I might be feeling like the worst person in the world right now, but there’s something that can fix that. I guess this is the part of addiction that will always haunt me. The knowledge of how to make emotional pain disappear. Not that I would, don’t get me wrong, I love my life now – it feels wonderful not to be a fuck-up anymore. The thought is still there though.