To be able to adhere to safe welding procedures and 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, 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 from the risks. 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.
It is recommended that the PPE for welding includes equipment such as ear muffs and ear plugs, which should be provided after a hearing audit has been completed, 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. Hearing protection should be used to cover the ears only after a review of the risks is conducted. Some of these risks associated with this process may be spatter and hot metal which may cause burns to the head area.
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. Welders should be encouraged to wear gloves that are suitable for the task and this type of PPE will be dependent on the type of welding application. Leather or hide is a common material for welding gloves to ensure robust protection whilst still offering some dexterity. If you are unsure as to which gloves would provide the best protection, the EN407 standard for protective gloves against thermal risks provides a good guide. Gloves should be free of holes, dry and in good condition to provide optimal protection.
It is recommended that welders wear welding protective clothing such as flame retardant long sleeved shirts or welding jackets, long trousers, aprons or leather spats. This ensures the welder 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 of 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 other hazards. 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 should only be provided once a risk assessment has been conducted.
It is recommended that respirators are fitted to each person individually and if one is to be used by another worker, it must be disinfected and refitted before use. Before any use of the various types of respirators it’s important to check and ensure the respirator is still in good working order. Air supplied respirators may also be required in some situations but only after a thorough through risk assessment is conducted on the type of hazard. Speedglas and CleanSpace are brands that ATOM partners with that provide respirators suitable for use during some welding applications.
There are various types of respiratory protection used in welding and two of these are 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 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.