Whether you are currently a welder or would like to get into the career, it is important to understand what clothing you are going to have to wear. Often, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is necessary to keep you as safe as possible while you work. Many jobs require you to wear PPE, and welding is no different.
However, Personal Protective Equipment must protect you from hazards, such as sparks, burns, spatters, radiation, and electrical shock. Wearing PPE is a good practice, and most companies require that you wear it in accordance with OSHA regulations.
Why PPE Is Necessary for Welders?
Cutting and welding can cause significant hazards while working. These can include you being in contact with radiation (ultraviolet, blue light, and infrared). However, you may also be around gases and fumes, slag, excessive heat, and more. Because these hazards can lead to injury, burns, and death, you should wear the right PPE at all times. There are a variety of things to wear and consider to protect all areas of the body.
Face and Eye Protection
Generally, your eyes and face are going to be at risk of getting burned or experiencing too-bright lights. Therefore, you need to wear a helmet with a cover plate and filter lenses. This way, you are protected from spatter, flying sparks, and radiant energy.
Helmets and face shields are designed to protect your neck, forehead, ears, and the vertical light at the back of the ears. However, you need the right type of helmet. It must be made of the right material to comply with ANSI Z49.1. Plus, the cover plates and filter lenses must also will also go by the same regulation.
Though a helmet with a face shield might seem like enough, it’s also best to wear safety glasses or goggles with side shields along with it. These can help to protect your eyes from slag chips, flying metal, wire wheel bristles, grinding fragments, and more. While a helmet is the first line of defense, some hazards can ricochet and get under it and into the eyes. This can cause blindness and other injuries.
Ear and Head Protection
Again, the helmet is a great place to start, but it isn’t all that you should wear. Consider a fire-resistant welding cap or another similar head covering under the helmet. This protects the hair and head from spatter, flying sparks, radiation, and burns.
If you plan to work out of position, such as with the arms overhead, consider earmuffs or earplugs that are approved under your regulatory agency – this is often OSHA. They can prevent hot metal, sparks, and spatter from getting into the ears and burning. Of course, you also need appropriate muffs or plugs if loud noises are present. That way, you can prevent hearing loss and protect your hearing.
It is imperative that you protect your feet with the right boots. Generally, the boots should meet all requirements for ASTM F2413 or ASTM F2412. Some companies go by the slightly outdated ANSI Z41, though it has officially been withdrawn. Make sure that the shoe has a compliance mark inside of it.
Though you must wear boots, they should be leather, high-topped, and steel-toed. Plus, they need to be in good condition. This will help to protect your ankles and feet from injury.
If you’re in a slag or heavy spark area, make sure you also use fire resistant boot protectors. You can also use leather spats, which are strapped around the pant legs, and go over the boot tops so that sparks can’t get into the shoe and burn your skin.
Compliance rules require that you don’t wear pants that feature cuffs. Make sure the bottoms of the pants cover the tops of your boots so that flying metal and sparks can’t get inside. However, you should NOT tuck the pant legs into the boots.
When it comes to your hands, you will need to wear welding gloves. Before putting them on each time, make sure there are no holes, they aren’t wet, and they are appropriately insulated. This can protect the hands from sparks, burns, heat, scratches, cuts, and electrical shock.
OSHA and other regulatory agencies require welders to use flame-resistant gloves, such as those made of leather. These can provide all the heat resistance and hand protection that welders need.
You should wear the right clothing, as well. It should be oil-free and made of heavy cotton or wool. The heavier the material, the better the protection. These items resist wear and tear better and are harder to ignite.
Of course, you should also make sure that the clothes allow you to move freely and cover all exposed skin. Make sure that you wear a fire resistant long-sleeved shirt under the PPE to help protect the neck and arms from radiation and skin burns.
When it comes to welding, there are many things to consider. The types of PPE you will need to wear is essential. Without them, you run the risk of getting hurt or burned. Often, your company will supply the PPE you need, but it is always a good idea to know what you should wear based on OSHA regulations so that you remain compliant and as safe as possible.