As a welder, you are well versed in safety procedures. You know to wear protective gear to avoid burns. You also know that your hood protects your eyes from the light of the torch. But, did you know that the fumes can be hazardous as well?
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the smoke produced by welding contains fumes and byproducts that can be very harmful to your health.
Whether you are fusion welding or pressure welding, the fumes contain extremely harmful byproducts including aluminum, arsenic, and lead. Welding produces gasses that include nitrogen, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. Inhaling these fumes can cause serious health problems. Some of the gases you are exposed to, such as helium, carbon dioxide and argon, can cause you to suffocate. These gases displace oxygen, which makes working in a small, enclosed space extremely dangerous. Welding in a place that does not have proper ventilation can result in death.
Less harmful but still troubling, short-term exposure to certain fumes can cause nausea, dizziness, and irritation of your eyes, nose and throat. The consequences of long-term exposure are much more severe. The fumes can lead to various types of cancer, nervous system damage, and even kidney problems.
Fortunately, there are ways that you can reduce your exposure to dangerous fumes and gases. First, you must understand all of the hazards associated with your job. Be sure to keep your welding surface clean. Remove any coatings that could cause toxic fumes and gases while you weld.
Since working outside or in an open space does not guarantee that you have proper ventilation, be sure to stay upwind when you are working. If you are working inside, take steps to ensure that you have an effective exhaust ventilation system in your space. However, you must also protect your coworkers by keeping the exhaust ports pointed away from their areas.
Do not put yourself at risk by working in an area that is does not have a ventilation system in place. Furthermore, if you cannot effectively reduce your exposure to fumes, even with a proper ventilation system, wear a respiratory device.
Workers’ compensation is available to people who become ill due to exposure to hazardous chemicals and gases. This means that if you become ill as a result of welding, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. A New York attorney can advise you on your rights in filing a claim.