Welding is ‘tricky’ business. We use that word because of how keenly timing plays its role in the industry. Each time you weld, you need to know when to apply a certain method and when to run a range of them. These things are not overly complicated they come with practice.
However, whether you are a budding welder learning to understand and handle the varied tools and techniques or even if you are a professional who has come into your own and can weld most anything anywhere, safety is paramount.
To say that the best welders use bare hands and mask-free faces while performing their work is to be a liar. They take all the precautions needed – a reputed welder cannot afford to injure him or herself and lose out on potential clients, projects, or worse. This applies doubly so for beginners. Safety is its own reward. Be smart, practical, and safe, and you will have assured yourself a steadfast future in welding.
With an aim (safety) come material requirements (tools). We shall now start to explore ten of the most useful items for use in modern welding that promote all-round safety.
Safety Item #1 – Jacket
We are starting off with something prominent, one of a handful of ‘big’ safety items.
- Get standard long-sleeved welding jackets that fit your size. An uncomfortable one can cause all sorts of troubles, from chafing, irritation, and stress to being an obstacle, which could prove dangerous when welding in small spaces.
- A cowhide split leather piece is considered the best in the business. By best we mean safest.
Not only are your arms and torso well protected, a good welding jacket also safeguards the clothes you have on underneath. Speaking of, suppose you are arc welding. Additionally using a turtleneck can protect yourself from the arc welder’s rays and sparks; a high collar shirt serves as an alternative.
Safety Item #2 – Pants
Don’t get us wrong. Here we are referring to specific types of pants, not the usual and everyday ones.
- Blue jeans are a comfy not to mention 24-7 sexy J favorite. They also double as adequate protection in the garage.
- Cotton pants are the next best thing. Heavy cotton pants, mind you, not the simple breezy variety; you are going to weld not golf.
Pants are very important safety items, so do not wear the first thing you see in the closet. Take your time to check if your jeans/heavy cotton pants have tears or holes or if they are too worn out for use.
Safety Item #3 – Shoes
Never sandals or slippers and not your run of the mill sports shoes or boots. You need something a bit more rugged.
- Get your hands on some steel-toe work shoes.
- Some footwear types in this regard include full leg protection, especially for cutting tasks. Such footwear come over the legs without encumbrance and is sold in diverse styles.
Few things compare to the safety that proper footwear brings to a welder’s profession.
Safety Item #4 – Hat
A welding hat is markedly different from those used at construction sites.
- You can slip these on backwards or forwards.
- Not only do their characteristic flaps come down to cover/protect your ears, even your hair and other portions of your head find renewed protection.
The flaps are not to be underestimated. They even keep stray sparks from running down the back of your collar.
Safety Item #5 – Gloves
We saved the best (safest) for the middle, instead of last. These are crucial safety items.
- They have to be heat-resistant. This is a rather obvious but sometimes overlooked point.
- Even with these on, do not expose them to open flames. These gloves are not in any way flame resistant. There’s a difference.
Check to see if the fit is proper and that the gloves have no tears/holes/cracks. Keep replacements handy, because oil and heat from steel causes glove fingers to grow stiff over time.
Safety Item #6 – Hood & Goggles
You may have seen the full frontal mask/hood. This too is permissible (more on this below). Often, the goggles are better, because they grant you a wider field of vision.
- Oxygen acetylene (Oxyacetylene) cutting/welding absolutely demands the use of safety goggles.
- They come tinted to safeguard your eyes against the intense flashes not to mention sparks.
- An arc welding hood, on the other hand, is ideal for arc welding activities.
- The type of amperage being used will determine the shade your hood/goggles need to possess.
Arc welding does indeed generate UV radiation and, tinted or not, goggles cannot protect you from this. Only hoods have the ability to protect your eyes/skin from such harmful radiation.
Safety Item #7 – Earplugs
This safety item is rather straightforward. Plug these in (much like earphones) when working with tools that generate steady amounts of noise. Whether the noise grows or lowers, earplugs help safeguard hearing when working in noisy environments over prolonged time periods.
Safety Item #8 – Dust Mask / Respirator
What if you start to generate plenty of smoke in the workshop? You cannot open the window or other ventilation source, because where you are stood welding where the smoke or other aerated substance is profuse. This is where a dust mask or respirator comes in mighty handy.
Safety Item #9 – Welding Caps
We wanted the welding hat mentioned earlier to occupy its own prominent space on our list. These last two safety items for welders include simple choices whose betters we have covered above.
- Welding caps also do a great job against slag splatter and hot metal.
- Cotton-based baseball caps are good too.
Wear long hair tied back when wearing hats/caps for welding.
Safety Item #10 – Long Wooden Stick
These will certainly catch fire (be careful with that) but they will not overheat like metal tools and surfaces. To this end, you can use wooden poles to move things in a sudden emergency-driven moment. Also, since you will be working with electricity, a long thick wooden pole can save lives.
The basic assumption: everything you see in the garage/workshop is hot to touch. This will encourage the wearing of gloves at all times, to offer one safety item as an example. The crescent wrench, tabletop, and other tools/spots accrue enormous amounts of heat.
On the other hand, you are looking at an excess of 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit during oxyacetylene welding and 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit during arc welding. Suffice to say such temperatures are fatal. Bet those safety items are starting to look pretty useful now.