Proper planning and the correct welding fume extraction equipment is key to making welding workshops safe and healthy. Regardless of the cutting and welding procedures carried out, workstations should be ergonomic, and they must meet stringent health and safety requirements.
If the proper precautions are taken, welding is a safe occupation. If health and safety issues are ignored, or not addressed correctly, it can be extremely dangerous. Real risks include inhalation of harmful fumes and gases, electric shock, fire, and explosions.
Various organizations including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the American Welding Society (AWS), and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) have produced safety guidelines aimed at avoiding, or at very least minimizing typical welding hazards.
Basic Safety Considerations for the Welding Workplace
Welding operators must be educated in terms of health and safety. They need to know, for example, that when required to work in confined spaces or elevated areas that there are additional risks, and so extra precautions must be taken. In addition to knowing how to weld safely using a given procedure, they need to know what safety precautions are recommended by the manufacturers of materials and equipment used. For this reason, employers should always supply the relevant safety data sheets.
It is also essential they wear the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) including flame-resistant gloves and welding helmets. Inadequate PPE can easily result in injury.
The very nature of welding means that workers are exposed to extreme temperatures, which in turn increases the risk of fire and possibility of explosions. Even an unusually high concentration of fine welding dust particles is enough to cause a small explosion or flash fire. For this reason, fire equipment including extinguishers, fire hoses, and sand buckets are kept close by, and any flammable material is removed from the working area.
How to Minimize the Danger of Hazardous Welding Fumes and Gases
It is no secret that welding fumes and gases are potentially dangerous. The risks depend largely on what metal is being welded and what consumables are used for welding. Some are considerably more hazardous than others. To be sure, always check the health hazard data on safety data sheets.
Every welding workshop, however big or small, must have sufficient ventilation. While natural ventilation may be adequate in the workshop of a home handyman, commercial welding workshops need effective industrial welding exhaust systems to ensure that the environments in which welders work are clean and safe. There are many different types, some more efficient than others, that will extract fumes and gases from the breathing zone.
OSHA has set permissible exposure limits and the ACGIH has set threshold limit values for substances that typically occur in welding fume. These specify acceptable levels of substances that may be found in the air welder breathe.
While individual respirators play an important role, welding smoke extraction systems and specialized welding systems are much more reliable.
Kemper America’s Solutions for Welding Fumes and Gases
Kemper America is committed to providing ventilation and smoke extraction solutions that will help keep employees working in any welding environment safe and healthy.
Filtration units are available in many different sizes and configurations, some wall mounted, others mobile, and central extraction units are available for large factory floors. In general, filtration units extract harmful smoke and gases and return clean air to the workspace.
Local exhaust equipment is not always practical, especially if work areas are located far apart from one another or when work stations change quite often. In these cases, Kemper’s indoor ventilation systems are the answer. One of the most popular options is the CleanAirTower that works according to the principle of displacement ventilation. Fine dust and gases are sucked out of the air and clean, purified air is recirculated into the workplace.
Whether you want to install a welding ventilation system like a CleanAirTower or a local exhaust system that will get rid of smoke and fumes and return fresh air to the factory floor, Kemper America is here to help. Call us today to discuss your needs.