Welders use equipment to connect metal pieces together, cut them, or trim them. With so many metal items used in buildings and machinery throughout many industries, welding is necessary to create everything from airplanes to boilers. Among the types of welding, workers may perform gas metal welding, plasma arc welding, shielded metal arc welding, and resistance welding.
While it’s no secret that there is an abundance of welding jobs available, many of this field comes with a risk of serious injury or death if proper precautions are neglected. Working with dangerous machinery that emits hazardous amounts of light, sound radiation, and fumes puts workers at risk every day. A single mistake could lead to a devastating injury, or continuously neglected safety measures could lead workers to develop long-term complications, such as respiratory issues.
Injuries commonly faced by welders:
- Photokeratitis, also known as arc eye or welder’s flash, occurs when the eye is exposed to prolonged periods of intense ultraviolet rays, creating something akin to a sunburn of the eyes
- Burns, as slag or heated materials can come into contacts with the skin or eyes. Fumes may also gather near a work site, increase the potential for fires or explosions.
- Respiratory damage
- Pneumoconiosis is chronic respiratory damage caused by inhaling metallic particles, including siderosis, which is caused by specifically inhaling iron oxide
- Lung cancer
- Increased risk of respiratory tract infections
- Chronic poisoning from materials such as zinc or cadmium in fumes
- Manganism (welder’s parkinson’s disease), which is caused by long term exposure to manganese fumes, causes irreversible damage to the brain and nervous system
- Electric shock
- Skin damage due to long term UV radiation exposure
To protect workers from the numerous dangers associated with this job, steps must be taken to mitigate the risks. In addition to specialized equipment, workers, supervisors, and companies must take active steps to address the health risks of welding. Educating workers about the dangers that they face and how to address the hazards of the job is essential. Understanding the reasoning behind precautions will greatly increase a worker’s motivation to follow guidelines. For example, a detailed explanation of what diseases are caused by welding fumes is effective in stressing why workers must wear respirators and keep areas well ventilated.In addition to the hazards of welding itself, workers must often perform their tass in dangerous locations. Construction welders may need to operate on scaffolds and at great heights, leading to a risk of falling or being truck by fallen objects. When working in enclosed spaces, exposure to toxic fumes and slag increases, and the air may become increasingly flammable.
Back pain may seem like the least of a welder’s potential problems, but ergonomics are equally important as other safety steps. Training workers in the correct posture for welding work and the correct way to lift large or heavy objects can decrease the chance of developing long-term complications. Even on a daily basis, awkward body positions during work can cause fatigue and reduce concentration, leading to a greater risk of mistakes and injuries.
Safety Measures for welding include:
- Signs designating potentially hazardous areas
- Screens, curtains, or shield to protect non-welders working near the area
- Helmet with appropriate filter shading
- Goggles or safety glasses
- On-going training and frequent meetings to keep workers informed of new safety procedures
- Insulated gloves
- Inspections to ensure that machinery and equipment are functioning effectively
- Heat resistant jacket
- Pants with no cuffs
- Ear muffs or plugs
- Rubber soled safety boots
Underwater welding poses a particularly high risk of injury or death. This technique has been developed to repair metallic structures underwater, such as oil rigs and large aquariums. In addition to the risks posed by the welding itself, these workers could also be harmed by the hazards of diving, such as decompression sickness, drowning, and danger from high pressures. According to several studies, this job carries an extremely high fatality rate of about 15%.
Various coatings on the metals being worked can lead to dangerous fumes and vapors. Removing coatings such as rust inhibitors, cadmium plating, and lead oxide primer paints can both minimize hazardous fumes and improve weld quality.
Lubbock Welding Injury Attorneys
Employers have a duty to keep each workplace as safe as possible, and this is especially crucial in high-risk jobs such as welding. Companies and supervisors must require and encourage safe practices, to minimize the risk to all workers. If negligence on the part of a company leads to a worker’s injury, it may be liable for the resulting damage.
If you’ve been injured on the job while welding, you could be facing overwhelming financial burdens. Even a seemingly minor injury could leave you with massive medical bills, an inability to work, or other complications. The Lubbock welding injury attorneys at Liggett Law Group have helped hundreds of workers seek compensation after being hurt on the job. We can analyze the details of your situation with you and help you decide on the best way to proceed. Contact us today for a free consultation.