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Welding Safety Checklist: A Guide to Safe Welding

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Welding is a dangerous job, and even if you’ve been welding for years or just starting, it can be very easy to forget about safety precautions. I have seen experienced welders make the same mistakes as beginners, which is why a welding safety checklist is vital.

A welding safety checklist can help ensure your safety by eliminating hazards. It’s essential to ensure you have all of the protective gear, a safe workspace, proper ventilation, and that your equipment meets industry standards before you start any work.

Welders must always follow basic safety precautions to avoid injury or even death; this applies to hobby welders as well. One of the essential safety precautions is creating and following a welding safety checklist.

Picture of a person welding.

Hazards of Welding

Welding is a process that joins two pieces of metal together. Welders use electricity to heat the metal until it melts and then joins them together. During the process, high heat, dangerous voltage, toxic fumes, and sparks are created.

When it comes to welding, safety needs are a priority. Organizations like OSHA and ACGIH have offered some guidelines in the workplace for employees’ protection – but employers need to ensure their staff review these datasheets. For ease, here is an overview of some hazards you need to be aware of:

Burns:

Since UV rays, molten metals, and high-temperature welding arcs are involved in welding, you are highly susceptible to severe burns. These burns can not only affect the skin, but they may also be harmful to the eyes.

Electric Shock:

There are many risks associated with arc welding, one being that you can get an electric shock when touching two different pieces of metal. An electrical power source is used in the welding process to generate enough heat to melt metal and create an arc.

Power sources use a high current at low voltage to create heat in metal, and when a welder touches two pieces of metal with different voltages, this can result in severe injuries or even death.

Not only can you experience a direct shock, but you can also experience a secondary shock if you touch any part of the electrode circuit simultaneously while you’re handling the metal that you’re welding.

Noise Hazards:

Loud and prolonged noises can permanently damage your ears. Any noise that exceeds the 85 dBA limit is dangerous, and activities such as air arc gouging and flame cutting often produce noise above 100 dBA. Excessive noise exposure can be very damaging to your ears and cause hearing loss.

If you are regularly exposed to loud noise, you may even develop permanent noise-induced hearing loss. Some other side effects include increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, and occasional dizziness as well.

UV and IR Radiation Exposure:

When welding, an intense bloom of UV light is produced. Without appropriate protection, such as shields or goggles, a person’s retina can be damaged by penetrating radiation that causes flash burns (arc-eye) and may result in long-term damage.

Arc-eye is an inflammation of the cornea, and its severity is related to three factors: distance from a welder’s flash, duration and penetration angle. Symptoms typically appear several hours after exposure when one’s eyes become red, watery/itchy, with a gritty feeling and a sensitivity to light.

Gas and Fume Exposure:

Welding can expose you to invisible gas fumes such as chromium, nickel oxides, as well as nitrogen oxides. The damage that welding can have on you depends on many factors, including the type of fume or gas, its concentration, and the duration of the exposure.

Welding is an intense process that can release harmful and often invisible fumes. The damage caused by breathing in these toxic fumes depends on many factors, including the type of fume or gas, their concentration, and the duration of the exposure.

Welders who have short-term exposure to fumes could develop eye, nose, and throat irritation as well as nausea or dizziness; some gases can even cause suffocation. If you have any of these symptoms after acute exposure, you should leave the area immediately and seek fresh air and medical attention if necessary.

Long-term exposure to harmful fumes may cause permanent respiratory damage and various types of cancer, including lung, larynx, or urinary tract. Other health effects from prolonged exposure include metal fume fever, stomach ulcers, kidney damage, and neurological damage; there is even a risk of developing Parkinson-like symptoms.

Picture of a safety checklist,

Welding Pre Start Checklist:

To ensure safety, several practices need to be in place before starting the actual welding work. Here is a checklist of the things that you need to keep in mind.

  1. Be familar with equipment you’re using which includes reading the operating manuals.
  2. Wearing appropriate safety equipment and check to make sure its in good condition
  3. Wear proper clothing for the job and button up.
  4. Checking the power supply and other cables connected to welding machines.
  5. Check out your welding machine to comfirm it’s not faulty.
  6. Is a fire blanket available in the working area?
  7. Ensure your work area is well ventilated.

Welding Equipment Safety Checklist

The welding industry requires you to wear appropriate equipment when performing welds. This equipment protects from unnecessary incidents such as blindness, skin burns, or overexposures to gases and fumes.

Here is a list of welding safety equipment that can protect from welding hazards.

1.      Welding Helmet:

A welding helmet or mask can protect welders from radiation and sparks that damage the eyes and skin and are emitted by the arc.

2.      Eye Protection:

Welders should always wear eye protection, including goggles or safety glasses with side shields. Don’t pick up just any safety glasses or goggles; your eye protection needs to meet the standards established by  American National Standards Institute Z87.

The ANSI provides certification for safety eyewear based on how it protects against specific hazards such as blunt impact, radiation, splashes, dust, and small particles. If you’re looking for a new pair of safety glasses, check out my article; in it, I cover the best safety glasses on the market.

3.      Respirators:

To ensure that the welders don’t inhale harmful fumes or gases that can have a detrimental effect on their health, respirators must be used. However, not all respirators are designed for every gas, so ensure you have the correct respirator for the fumes that are in your workspace.

4.      Flame Resistant Welding Gloves:

During welding, your hands are in the closest proximity to the arc so you need to wear gloves designed to protect your hands and lower arms from intense radiation, sparks, and the heat generated when welding.

5.      Protective Suits:

Since welders work in an environment where they are exposed to extreme temperatures, sparks, and flames, it is important to wear protective suits to protect their skin from burning. This is not the case for every shop or situation. My son welds wearing a heavy welding shirt, jeans, and square toe cowboy boots.

6.      Welding Specific Boots

Welding-specific boots are an essential piece of your work clothing as they protect the top of your feet from flames and sparks. Most leather work boots are fine to use when welding, but be aware that sparks are likely to fall on your feet and mark them.

Some welding boots come with a flap that covers the laces to prevent damaging them. One of my favorite pairs of work boots to wear when welding is the FSI Avenger Hammer 11″ Leather Soft Toe Puncture Resistant Waterproof EH Wellington Work Boot.

These Avenger Hammer boots are puncture-resistant, have non-slip soles, and are designed to protect the wearer from open electrical shock.

MIG Welding Safety Checklist

Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welding is a process in which a solid wire electrode is supplied to the welding gun and pool for the purpose of joining materials. While MIG Welding is a little different from other types of welding, you are still recommended to follow proper safety precautions so you can reduce the risk significantly.

Here is a 7-Point MIG Welding Safety Checklist that you should follow to ensure safety.

  1. Clean the workspace.
  2. Remove any flammable liquid nearby.
  3. Ensure proper ventilation.
  4. Remove jewelry and lose items.
  5. Inspect the gas lines.
  6. Take precautions for avoiding electric shocks, noise hazards, UV and IR radiations, and fire.
  7. End with proper post-operation.

Osha Welding Safety Checklist

Welding is a dangerous job, and it tends to pose both individual health and physical safety risks, which makes it essential to know the OSHA welding safety requirements and be vigilant with your inspection checklist forms.

Here is an overview of the Osha welding safety checklist.

  1. Do the workers have the appropriate training to accomplish their jobs safely?
  2. Is a brief on the hazards associated with specific jobs provided to the workers?
  3. Are the workers following Osha welding clothing requirements properly?
  4. Are Osha welding ventilation requirements being followed in areas where hot work is being done?
  5. Are the stored cylinders secure and upright in a dry, fireproof, and ventilated room?
  6. Will the cylinders be turned off after they are used?
  7. Do the workers know that they aren’t supposed to use oxygen to blow away the dust?
  8. Is smoking prohibited in areas where welding work is being done?
  9. Are the atmosphere and temperature tested before entering any work zone and while the work is being done?
  10. Has Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) been ensured?

Summing It Up

Welding is an attractive hobby for people who enjoy working with their hands, but many haven’t yet mastered the skills of commercial welders; this leads some aspiring welders into risky practices without considering how dangerous those actions might end up being later on down the line.

Welding happens to be a time-honored craft; however, whether you practice it as a profession or casually, you need to take specific measures to ensure safety. If the above-listed checklists are understood and followed correctly, you will likely encounter no issues during your work.

The use of a safety checklist has helped me ensure hazards are addressed and taken care of before any welding starts so you can avoid suffering an injury and keep on enjoying your trade or hobby.

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