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Welder Health and Safety Hazards

Welder Health and Safety Hazards

Health and safety hazards for welders include:

1. Chemical hazards

  • Welding creates fumes which are a complex mixture of metallic oxides, silicates and fluorides.  Welding fumes normally contain oxides of the materials being welded and of the electrodes being used. If the metal has a coating or paint, these too can decompose with the heat and become part of the fumes.
  • Flammable and combustible liquids and compressed gases.

2. Ergonomic hazards

  • Injuries result from strains, sprains and work-related musculoskeletal disorders, from lifting or moving heavy objects, working in awkward positions for long periods, holding heavy welding guns, and performing repetitive motions.

3. Physical hazards

  • Exposure to excessive levels of noise.
  • Exposure to excessive heat or cold.
  • Exposure to ultraviolet and infrared radiation from welding arc emissions.
  • Exposure to gamma- and x-rays from inspection equipment or welding machines, resulting in skin and eye damage such as “welder’s eye” and/or cataracts.

4. Safety hazards

  • Working at heights with attendant risk of falls.
  • Working in confined spaces.
  • Electrical shock or electrocution.
  • Eye and skin injuries from flying particles.
  • Cuts and stabs from sharp metal edges.
  • Burns from hot surfaces, flames, sparks, etc.
  • Fires from sparks, flames or hot metals (especially when the atmosphere becomes oxygen enriched and easier to ignite), from flashbacks and equipment failure.

5. Psychological

  • Stress from work demands.
  • Shift work and extended work days resulting in adverse health effects.

6. Chronic hazards

  • Respiratory tract infections resulting from metal fume exposure.
  • Pneumoconiosis (lung disease from inhaling metallic or mineral particles).
  • Siderosis (a chronic lung disease related to inhaling iron oxide).
  • Cancer of the liver, nasal passages, sinuses, stomach, and lung.
  • Chronic damage to the eyes and skin from exposure to UV light.
  • Central nervous system damage from exposure to lead, manganese and aluminum.
  • Lung disease from exposure to carbon dioxide and oxygen deficient atmospheres.
  • Chronic poisoning from zinc and cadmium from welding fumes, PCBs from the decomposition of anti-corrosion oils and decomposition products from paints.