Welders' health and safety hazards

Major job duties allow the description and prevention of health and safety hazards for welders; nevertheless, given the large variety of workplaces, it is nearly impossible to predict all hazards that may appear. Welders usually work in facilities that produce steel, heavy machinery, ships or special equipments, and there are also several industrial sectors that provide various opportunities such as the automotive, forestry, construction and mining industries. Safety and health risks may be dealt with according to several general categories depending on the way the chemicals and materials may affect health and safety during the utilization process.

Welders may be exposed to fumes that result from the technological process: metallic oxides, fluorides and silicates. Extra precaution measures should be taken when there is the risk of welders inhaling these fumes with harmful effects on human health. Fumes result from the excessive metal heat that allows the formation of some fine solid particles after condensation, and they usually contain chemicals from the electrodes and from the metal coating or paint that is exposed to the welding process. Compressed gases such as acetylene and flammable combustible liquids represent other potential hazards for welders; following all safety rules and procedures should therefore reduce the number of accidents to the minimum.

Ergonomic risks also need to be mentioned in relation to the safety policy applied to welders since lots of sprains, strains and skeleto-muscular deficiencies result from work conditions. Welders often have to lift heavy objects, work in uncomfortable positions for long periods of time or repeat motions that excessively solicit muscles and bones. Furthermore, in the category of physical risks welders run, eye damage is the most likely to happen. The use of auto darkening helmets protects the eyes from the action of the ultraviolets and the infrareds and reduces to number of cataract cases caused by radiation.

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