To be able to adhere to safe welding procedures to manage the risks of this potentially hazardous application, it is important to understand how to correctly use and maintain welding personal protective equipment (welding PPE). The different types of welding safety equipment that is recommended for use by welders include the following:
Eyes, face and head protection
Welding goggles, helmets, hand shields, welding lenses and protective filters are some popular types of PPE for eyes, face and head protection. Speedglas and Lincoln Electric are two examples of brands that ATOM partners with that offer welding helmets and other protective equipment to help shield welders. The purpose of this welding eye and face protection equipment is to provide protection from hazards such as light, radiation and burns from hot debris and sparks. It is recommended that workers always have their eyes, face and/or head protected whenever they are welding.
This PPE for welding includes equipment such as fire resistant ear muffs and ear plugs, which are to ensure workers are protected from hazards that could cause hearing loss. It is likely that welders will be required to wear such PPE to minimise the risks of loud noises in their working environment. Ears should be covered (whether by a full helmet or other PPE) to ensure sparks, spatter and hot metal is prevented from entering the ears and potentially causing burns.
Insulated gloves or gauntlets are important for welders to wear as they provide the user with protection from a range of hazards including heat, ultraviolet light and burns from hot debris and sparks. Welding personnel must wear gloves that are fire resistant and protect exposed skin on the hands and wrists. Leather or hide is a common material for welding gloves to ensure robust protection whilst still offering dexterity. If you are unsure as to which gloves would provide the best protection, the EN407 standard for protective gloves against thermal risk provides a good guide. Gloves should be free of holes, dry and in good condition to provide optimal protection from burns.
It is recommended that welding personnel wear welding protective clothing such as flame resistant long sleeved shirts or welding jackets, long trousers, aprons and leather spats. This ensures the user is protected from hazards such as heat, ultraviolet light and burns from hot debris and sparks. Welders should avoid wearing clothing that has the potential to capture hot sparks and metals, for instance in pockets or other folds in the clothing. Clothing should be made of natural fibres as any synthetic fabrics can burn or melt and as such should be avoided when welding.
Boots or shoes should be warn at all times to provide protection from hot metal debris, other metal debris and electric shocks. It is recommended that foot protection is non-slip, as well as heat and fire resistant. Shoes or boots that are open style or have laces that have the potential to capture hot sparks and metal debris should not be worn. Shoes should be easy to remove (side zips are optimal) in the instance that welding spatter is captured inside.
Opaque or appropriate translucent screens can be used to protect the health and safety of people who are in close proximity to welders. The purpose of which is to protect these people from exposure to the rays of an arc during electric welding operations. This is because welding arcs and flames emit intense, visible, ultraviolet and infrared radiation which will burn unprotected skin.
Respiratory protective devices
Face respirators and air supplied respirators are to be used to provide protection against dusts, hazardous welding fume, gases, chemicals and oxygen depleted atmospheres. It is recommended that respirators are fitted for each person individually and if one is to be used by another worker, it must be disinfected and refitted before use. The rightness of all connections and the condition of the face piece, headbands and valves should be checked before each use. Air supplied respirators may also be required in some situations such as confined spaces. Speedglas and CleanSpace are brands that ATOM partners with that provide respirators suitable for use during welding.
There are two types of respiratory protection – negative and positive pressure.
Negative pressure disposable respirators include the following:
- Pre-Formed of Flat Fold
- Valved or Un-Valved
- Carbon Layered
Positive pressure reusable respirators include:
- Full face respirators
- Half face respirators
Positive pressure respirators include Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) and Powered Air Purifying Respirators (also available as built in PAPR welding helmets).
If you are unsure of what welding PPE is required to protect your team from the hazards of welding, contact the team at ATOM Safety for expert advice and assistance.