Common Pipe Welding Dangers and Tips To Avoid Them
Joining pipes by welding them together seems fairly straightforward to people who aren’t welders. But professional welders know that welding involves hazards, and careful preparation is necessary to do the job safely. Here are some common pipe welding dangers and tips to avoid them.
Welders are at risk of injuries including eye injuries, crushed extremities, burns, and cuts. Professionals are conscientious about wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as welding helmets, fire-resistant clothing, protective gloves, and sturdy boots when working on a welding job.
Fumes and Gases
Using heat to melt and join metals can release harmful gases and toxic fumes, depending on the materials involved. Welders should use approved respirators under their helmets, and supervisors should ensure proper ventilation in the work areas.
Many pipe welding jobs require pipe purging to drive oxygen out and replace it with shielding gas to prevent oxidation on corrosion-resistant metals. However, it’s possible to use too much shielding gas, which creates defects in the weld. Shielding gases displace oxygen and, when used improperly, create a risk of suffocation. Use proper pipe purging equipment, flow meters, and adequate ventilation as required by applicable work safety regulations.
Nearly all welding is now performed using heat generated by live electrical circuits, or “arcs.” This creates the risk of electric shock or outright electrocution. Shock or electrocution can occur when a welder touches two metal objects that have a voltage difference. Great care must be taken when working in tight spaces. Welders should also be aware of the dangers of handling electrical equipment with wet hands, and of working in humid environments. Insulation and rubber mats can reduce the risk, but proper training and welder expertise are the best defense against this hazard.
Fire and Explosions
A work environment that has flammable materials lying around is a disaster waiting to happen. Make sure work areas are cleaned up, and fire protection protocols are in place, including the right type of fire extinguishers, alarms, and emergency exits. Sparks and molten materials can fly far from the site of the welding work and ignite materials in adjacent areas. A thorough inspection with a safety checklist should be conducted prior to beginning any welding job
Preparation is the best defense against welding accidents. Knowing these common pipe welding dangers and tips to avoid them can help reduce the risk, however it isn’t possible to anticipate and eliminate every type of risk from a welding job. Proper preparation, personal protective equipment, removal of hazardous and flammable materials, and fire protection protocols can limit the risks. In addition, proper training of all personnel who will be on site, including professional welders, is critical to all workers’ safety.