Welding and soldering joins pieces of metal by the use of heat, pressure or both. There are many different types of welding and associated processes. Welding “smoke” is a mixture of very fine particles (fumes) and gases. Many of the substances in welding smoke, such as chromium, nickel, arsenic, asbestos, manganese, silica, phosgene, and carbon monoxide, can be extremely toxic.
Welding fumes and gases can originate from the following sources: the base material being welded or the filler material that is used; coating and paints on the metal being welded, or coatings covering the electrode; shielding gases supplied from cylinder; chemical reactions which result by the action of ultraviolet light from the arc and heat; process and consumables used; and contaminants in the air, such as vapors from cleaners and degreasers.
- Hot Works training is mandatory, and can be coordinated through EH&S.
- Before beginning a welding job, identify the hazards for that particular operation. The hazards will depend on the type of welding, the materials to be welded, and the environmental conditions.
- Review MSDSs to identify the hazards.
- Ventilation should be used to remove harmful fumes and gases.
- Use shielding to protect other people in the work area from the light of the welding arc, heat and hot spatter.
- Proper PPE (eye protection, skin protection, and respiratory protection) must be available to trained employees.
- Give special consideration to effects of welding in confined spaces by following the confined space standard.
- Routine air monitoring may be conducted to determine the levels of hazardous materials in the welding area.
- All welders should receive training on the safe use of equipment and processes, safe work practices and emergency procedures.
- Signs should be posted in welding areas to warn employees of exposure hazards.
- Remove all nearby flammable or combustible materials before striking an arc or lighting a flame.
- Arc welding should not be performed within 200 feet of degreasing equipment or solvents.
- Don’t weld on painted or coated surfaces.
- Use a water table under arc welding to reduce fumes.
- Grind parts instead of air arcing.
- Use the sub arc process to minimize light and fumes created by a visible arc.