The Basics of Welding Safety
Proper welding safety starts with familiarizing yourself and other operators with the welding equipment and the manufacturer’s recommendations. Take the time to read the operator’s manual thoroughly and follow all of the safety, operation and maintenance instructions it contains. Keep the manual handy so new users can acquaint themselves with the machine. Should the operator’s manual become lost or damaged, request a new one from the manufacturer. Miller Electric and many other manufacturers provide product manuals on-line. Spanish and French language versions are available for some of the most common products.
The Well-Dressed Welder
Arc welding produces sparks and emits intense visible and invisible rays that pose several hazards to unprotected skin and eyes. When welding, adequately protect your skin. Shorts, short sleeves, open collars all leave you vulnerable to burns from both flying sparks and the arc rays. Wear only flame-resistant clothing, and button your cuffs and pockets to prevent them from catching sparks. Pants cuffs, too, can catch sparks and should be avoided.
Figure 1: The well-dressed (or safely dressed welder) no longer has to use a clumsy, ill-fitting jacket. Modern welding garments are more functional, flexible and better fitting. Note that once the welder dons the helmet, he will have no skin exposed to sparks or arc burns. A flame resistant jacket is completely buttoned, allowing no pockets or spaces for a spark to catch. A welding bandana protects the top of his head from sparks. An auto-darkening welding helmet decreases the chance for repetitive stress injury to one’s neck and can adjust to changing arc parameters conditions.
With respect to footwear, high top leather shoes offer the best protection. Tennis shoes and other cloth shoes are inadequate; they can catch a spark and smolder unnoticed and their components can melt and stick to your skin.