Whether you are working professionally or simply taking up welding as a hobby, protecting yourself and those around you should always be your number one priority before starting work. In order to do so it is always imperative to ensure that you have the appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). Often safety is perceived as a lesser priority and without the appropriate due care and diligence you could be putting yourself and others around you at risk. The number of hazards presented by welding are large and varied, including sparks, spatter, radiation, slag, heat, fumes & gases and even electric shock, protecting all parts of your body is vitally important. So where should you start?
Remember that all safety equipment must pass different compliance standards, it’s important to find reliable brands that you can trust. Welding supplies specialize in industry trusted tools and equipment but also sell a line of safety helmets, respiratory equipment and safety gloves. Finding a one stop shop for all your equipment and safety needs can save you time and money.
Eye and Face Protection
It is important that your helmet contains a filter lens and cover plates, this is to ensure there is adequate protection from flying sparks, radiant energy and spatter. These helmets are designed to protect not only your face but also your neck, ears and forehead from these possible dangers when working. Underneath your helmet you should wear appropriate safety glasses or goggles that incorporate side shields, for added protection from any flying metal, slag chips or fragments.
Head and Ear Protection
The top of your head and also very importantly, you ears, should never be forgotten. In order to ensure that your hair is protected from catching on to any wayward sparks ensure you have a fire resistant welders cap or other appropriate headwear. It’s easy to over look the necessity of protecting your ears, however suitable earmuffs can protect from other unwanted injuries. If you’re working area is particularly loud, a simple set of earplugs will help reduce the risk of any damage inflicted from the noise.
Protecting your feet does not just involve wearing the correct footwear, but also wearing the correct pants, in a manner that will ensure your are adequately protected at all times. Your boots should be leather, steel-toed, high-topped and in good condition, this will protect your feet and ankles from immediate danger in the workspace. Workpants should not have cuffs, as this provides a place for falling sparks and flying metal to land and potentially catch fire. Your pants should always sit over the top of your boots, allowing any sparks to continue to fall to the ground without the risk of catching and falling inside your boot. Never tuck your pants inside your boots or socks
Your hands are closest to the action when welding and at the highest risk from heat and associated burns and shocks. Always ensure your gloves are dry, hole-free, appropriately insulated welding gloves. Leather gloves ensure the provision of heat resistance as well as general hand protection to maximize your safety whilst on the job.
Where appropriate, ensure you are working under a properly functioning exhaust hood. This will assist in pulling dangerous fumes away from your work and reduce your risk of inhalation. Respiratory equipment can sometimes, but not always be required, ensure you are aware of the associated risks for each job and prepare accordingly.
Remember, by reducing the risk to your personal safety you are not only protecting yourself, but also those around you. Never compromise your safety and if you are ever in doubt of the correct PPE to use, ask a friend, colleague or supervisor.