Basic Welding Safety

Welding close up view

Proper safety equipment should always be used when welding.

Welding is performed in a variety of workplace settings as well as by hobbyists and individuals working around the home. While there are many considerations with regard to welding safety, and often those considerations are specific to the type of welding being performed, there are some basics that every welder must consider before beginning. Those basics include having the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect the welder as well as any individuals in the vicinity of welding work.

The following are the PPE essential for welding safety:

1. Welding Helmet
Standard welding helmets generally come with a glass lens coated with either infrared or ultraviolet shade with a rating of around #10. Unfortunately, these types of lenses require flipping the helmet lens down when lighting the welder and doing the actual welding and then lifting up the helmet for inspecting work. Many find this a hassle as they attempt to juggle welding equipment while flipping the lens. A solution to this situation is having an auto-darkening lens that will move from a shade rating of about #3 to one between #9 or #13 when the welder is lit. Regardless of the features chosen on a welding helmet, make sure it is ANSI Z87 certified to be sure of proper eye protection when welding.

Check back next week to learn “How to Choose a Welding Helmet.”

2. Safety Goggles
As with welding helmets, welding safety glasses also help protect welders against Photokeratitis, also known as “welder’s flash.”  In many cases, especially for arc welding, a welding helmet is the best option for eye and face protection since goggles alone will not protect the face. Many welders will wear safety goggles beneath welding helmets for additional eye protection; in fact, many work places often require the use of both a helmet and goggles. Safety goggles are essential for those who are in the area of someone who is welding but out of reach of flying sparks. As with a welding helmet, make sure safety glasses are also ANSI Z87 certified.

3. Proper Clothing
The rule to follow when choosing clothing to wear while welding is asking if it will withstand heat and protect from sparks. While clothing that is comfortable and non-restrictive is important, welders must also consider whether or not the additional protection of clothing (such as bibs) covering the chest, a welder’s cap under welding helmets are also necessary. The type of clothing chosen depends largely on the situation, but putting thought into what is worn is important for welding safety regardless of context.

4. Proper boots:
Footwear for the welder includes boots that are comfortable for standing for long periods of time but that also are made of a thick material to protect the welder from sparks. Choices range from rubber boots tall enough to cover ankles to standard work books. Additional options include a removable insole that can be washed as well as boots with anti-skid soles.

5. Welding Gloves
Welding gloves come in a variety of different materials to suit the needs of handling different levels of heat and even certain chemicals. The type of gloves chosen should be determined by the type of welding work done the most. Cowhide is the most durable, but it limits flexibility. Also, some gloves come with more padding than others. Kidskin and goatskin gloves will protect hands and are much thinner, allowing for a greater range of motion. In addition, there are gloves better suited for higher-heat conditions. Keep in mind that ANSI Z49.1 requires welders to wear gloves specific for welders because they are insulated and provide the necessary heat protection.

Welders should also keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case an errant spark turns into something more substantial. Additionally, a welder respirator or particle mask worn under a welding helmet is another important safety option as it will protect the welder from inhaling toxic chemicals. In addition to having the proper equipment, making sure the equipment that is purchased remains clean and in good working condition is also essential.

The basic safety equipment chosen for welding is the first line of defense to protect against severe eye injury and to prevent blindness in addition to protecting the body from flying sparks and intense heat. The American Welding Society provides more detail on PPE for welders, including information on ANSI and OSHA standards, in the fact sheet “Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Welding and Cutting.”

The Best of Safety Glasses USA 2011! Part 1

2011 Safety Glasses USA Blog Posts

2011 provided many informative articles about products, safety tips, new announcements and more.

In case you missed any of‘s fabulous and informative blogs this year, here’s Part I of a two-part recap of the best postings of 2011!

January: Mike Eldridge, President of Safety Glasses USA, kicked off the year with a review of a fascinating documentary, Celebrating 100 Years of Safety, that explores a century of workplace safety conditions.  A series of blogs followed about workplace safety today: who’s getting it right and who’s getting it horribly wrong.

February: Emergency eye wash and the best eyewear for the prevention of accidents were the theme of Mike’s posts this month.  He was quick to remind us that you can prevent eye emergencies and safeguard your employees by learning from your past mistakes, as well as those of others.  And two product reviews this month included Uvex’s Stealth Reader Goggles, goggles that provide excellent impact protection, plus the convenience of bifocal reading lenses; as well as a review of Smith Optics Elite Eyewear, perfect for both combat operations and military or law enforcement personnel in non-combat operations.

March: OSHA’s help for small businesses with crane and derrick rule compliance was offered in “Small Entity Compliance Guide for Cranes and Derricks in Construction”.  Mike also reminded us how important scaffolding safety is.  If you’re unsure why safety regulations and guidelines are so important, then take a look at “What is the True Cost of an Eye Injury?” and never wonder again.  Another post this month asked whether you could be suffering from computer vision syndrome (CVS). If you experience eye strain, irritation, or temporary vision problems after prolonged screen time, you may be.  Computer safety glasses, such as Gunnar Optiks, are designed specifically to lessen strain, and advice on keeping those glasses clean and scratch-free is important as well.

April: Wiley-X Eyewear Featured in Reload Video Game” took center stage as the sole post this month, but some posts are just so good it takes an entire month to recover.

May: Mike continued his homage to Wiley-X with his post “Top 5 Reasons To Own Wiley-X Sunglasses”.  Their shatterproof lenses, unbreakable frames, clarity, facial cavity seals, and top down ventilation make these sunglasses an excellent choice for military, law enforcement, motorcyclists, professional shooters, fisherman, and others.  And speaking of tactical eyewear, if you’ve ever wondered “How To Identify Ballistic Rated Eyewear“, this blog will answer your questions.

June: This month’s blogs started out with a bang when Mike brought you “Fireworks Eye Safety Tips“; and then, how fishing can be even more enjoyable with a great pair of polarized sunglasses.  But Mike’s poor little typing fingers got a well-deserved rest when introduced blog contributor Ali Saporito.  Ali brought you more posts all about summer fun: bicycling essentials, motorcycle sunglasses and goggles,  PIP safety glasses for women, avoiding eye injuries in the summertime, and the importance of safety glasses for do-it-yourself weekend warriors.

July: Ali delivered a triple-header this month when she blogged about three ways to make life at work more comfortable and safe by wearing computer safety glasses, making sure to stand up and stretch at regular intervals, and keeping your workspace germ-free.  And if your job requires a great deal of reading while also wearing eye protection, “4 Real World Reasons to Wear Bifocal Safety Glasses” contains valuable information you don’t want to miss.  But all work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy, so, if your free-time recreation is shooting, learn about lens color options in shooting safety glasses.

August: Yours truly joined the blogger family in August, and Ali and I combined forces with Mike to bring you posts this month all about eye safety.  We encouraged you to develop good eye safety habits — especially in the lab; highlighted the best safety glasses for dental professionals; updated you on the new eyewear rules for field hockey; provided you with a back-to-school safety checklist; and reminded you that safety glasses are an essential item in your home emergency kit.

And if you didn’t get enough great safety information, advice, and product reviews January through August, tune in next week for all the fun and surprises we delivered September through December!  Your comments are welcome below.

To be continued . . . .

Yard Cleanup: Fall For Safety This Autumn

Fall Cleanup Blowing Leaves

Always wear safety glasses or goggles when using a leaf blower!

It’s that “wonderful” time of year again – the time where we drain the pool, pull our plants up, and break out the rake and clean the leaves. Fall cleanup is a necessary part of home ownership, and it’s a great way to get the whole family together and go outside to enjoy that crisp Autumn air. Safety is an essential part of the annual Fall cleanup and should be first on your cleanup checklist. Here’s why:

  • Leaf blowers blow more than leaves. Ever notice how much dirt and debris a leaf blower kicks up, in addition to leaves, of course? Getting dirt blown in your eyes isn’t only uncomfortable; it can be dangerous and scratch your retina, too. Safety Glasses are a absolutely necessary for your Fall cleanup, however you may want to consider a hybrid safety glasses/goggle style like the Pyramex I-Force. The I-Force creates a seal around your eye to keep you completely protected from flying dust and debris.
  • It takes two to handle a ladder. Ladders, no matter how sturdy they seem, always run the risk of slipping or buckling. Have a family member hold the ladder for you while you climb up it, and never stand above the level noted by the manufacturer. Wear safety glasses, a hard hat, and safety gloves.
  • Protect more than limbs when using a chainsaw. Use chainsaws carefully to prevent any dangers to your limbs. Chainsaws bring other dangers, too – branches falling on your head, the loud sound creating hearing damage, and wood chips flying in your eyes. The Elvex ProGuard Loggers Safety Cap is equipped with it all – earmuffs, a hard hat, and a steel mesh face visor to help you stay safe while cutting down those branches this Fall.
  • Bugs can live in plants, so watch those hands. It’s common for insects to live within the potting soil in your outdoor plants, and plants can also harbor disease, as commonly evidenced by a powdery mildew on the leaves. Wear durable Safety Gloves to keep your hands safe from the bite of insects or plant-born disease.
  • Spraying fertilizer so your plants will be ready for Spring? You need more than a mask. We hope you wear at least a mask when spraying fertilizer – simply holding a hand across your mouth just won’t do! Wear a Moldex Respirator to breathe safety – and fit comfortably around your mouth and nose. Chemicals spread throughout the air, so you’ll need safety glasses as well – you don’t want to risk itchy, infected eyes as a result.
Pyramex I-Force Safety Glasses

The Pyramex I-Force combines the best features of safety glasses and goggles.

Fall cleanup is upon us, and these October weekends are the perfect time to get your family outside to make your yard Winter-ready, and eventually, Spring-perfect. Think safety during this year’s Fall cleanup, and you’ll be back inside carving pumpkins again in no time – with safety gloves on, of course!