Welding and metalworking involve a wide variety of processes, many of which can cause safety hazards to the operator. Injuries can range from minor to severe, and some hazards can affect long-term health. Being aware of the risks can help to protect workers from these injuries and provide a safe and productive work environment. Below are four risks with metalworking and how to stay safe from them.
The arc produced in welding can cause severe burns of the surface of the cornea that cause intense pain and loss of work time. Ensuring that all employees have access to welding helmets with darkening glass and the training needed to use them effectively can help to reduce these painful injuries. In addition, cutting, grinding and other processes can cause tiny shards of metal to be thrown into the air. Regular use of goggles that adequately cover the eye, from the front, top and sides, can prevent these injuries.
Cuts and Compression Injuries
Because metal is such a hard material, it often has sharp edges left behind from the cutting process. This problem is particularly common with metal sheets that leave sharp, sheared edges that can catch clothing and cut into skin. Wearing heavy clothing that helps to protect the skin can reduce the number of laceration injuries. Compression injuries can also occur when fingers or skin are pinched between pieces of heavy material. Wearing leather work gloves can help to reduce these injuries.
The normal actions of welding by a variety of methods can produce sparks that can burn the skin. They can also throw small amounts of molten metal that can produce a burn injury on the skin surface. Even mechanical processes, like induction pipe bending, produce significant amounts of heat on metal that can cause severe burns before the cooling procedure is completed. For this reason, protective clothing, such as gloves, aprons, sleeves, vests and jackets should be available at all times for those working with these processes. Contact Inductabend Pty Ltd for more information about induction pipe bending processes.
Respiratory Hazards from Welding Gases
Exposure to welding gases can cause eye irritation, nose and throat irritation, as well as nausea and dizziness. In addition, trace amount of metals can escape into the air during the metalworking process. These hazards can lead to various types of cancer and the development of Parkinson’s-like symptoms. Providing adequate venting of all work areas and individual worker respiratory masks and equipment can prevent health problems from common metalworking processes.
The variety of machines and processes make metalworking an exciting industry that continually adapts to changing needs in the economy. Providing the right protective equipment and careful training can create a safer environment with fewer problems.