Welding is an extremely important occupation to several different industries. Without welders, the automotive industry, the construction industry, the aviation industry, and several others would simply not be able to function. In our day-to-day lives, most of us probably use, operate, or benefit from welded devices or elements.
The buildings we work in, the gates and fences that protect our homes, the small kitchen appliances that we use for every meal, the cars that take us to and from school—all of these things require extensive welding to function correctly.
Below, we take a look at how businesses who employ welders can implement the best welder safety policies, including the most important welding safety equipment and other forms of welding protection.
The Dangers of Welding
What most people don’t consider, however, is that welding is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. According to Industrial Safety & Hygiene News, using figures from OSHA studies, “one in 250 construction workers will die from a welding injury. With over half a million American welders working today, we can conservatively expect 2,000 welding fatalities in our lifetime.”
Furthermore, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that “over 560,000 workers are injured annually due to welding accidents. Given the fact that welding requires a dangerous level of heat and energy, this isn't surprising. Welding is a very dangerous occupation, with the risk of death being more than 4 per 1000 over a career.”
Employ Welders? You Should Know...
For business owners in the automotive, aviation, construction, or any other industry that hires welders, welding safety should be a paramount concern. Not only does welding safety protect your essential workers, it can also help to cut back on workers’ compensation payments and costly time away from work due to workplace accidents.
Welding is such a dangerous occupation because welders are exposed to several different dangers on the worksite. Obviously, welding generates intense heat, which can lead to burns. Also, because welding requires high voltage electricity, electrocution is another workplace danger that welders face.
Welding also exposes workers to potentially dangerous UV light that can damage both eyes and skin. The fumes from burning metal can also cause respiratory damage. Lastly, many welders work at dangerous heights, thus increasing the probability of accidents from falls.
Strategies for Protecting Welders
To prevent workplace accidents that could occur due to all of these distinct hazards, employers need to implement a holistic strategy focused on welder safety. This strategy should focus on proper training of all employees. A quality training for welders should include:
- Ways to avoid electric shock
- Strategies to protect eyes and skin from UV light
- How to avoid burns
- Proper Equipment maintenance
All welders need to be provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) and other important gear. This includes leather gloves, welding masks, high SPF sunscreen to protect the skin, harnesses and other fall protection if welding in high areas, and other important PPE.
The U.S. Occupational and Safety Administration (OSHA) states that “the welding standard also states that "appropriate protective clothing required for any welding will vary with the size, nature and location of the work to be performed." Therefore, if welders are exposed to flash fires or short-duration flame exposures, OSHA expects that employers would provide and ensure the use of flame resistant clothing to protect workers from these hazards.”
You can read a more complete overview of the OSHA requirements for welding protection here.
Work-Fit Knows Welding Safety
Lastly, businesses that work with welders might also consider hiring a third party, independent organization to help you develop policies that best protect your employees. Welding is a dangerous occupation, and implementing the best practices can certainly help to cut back on workplace accidents.
Work-Fit is one leading company that offers onsite and telehealth injury prevention and workplace wellness management for your workforce. As the nationwide leader in applying sports medicine techniques in the workplace to prevent injuries and increase your company's bottom line, Work-Fit can help your company design and implement the best safety policies to keep welders free from accidents or injuries.
Our injury prevention program offers a team of qualified professionals that can help you design and implement the best safety and risk-reduction policies.
Contact Work-Fit today to learn about how we can help your team!