Welding is one of the fastest-growing careers in America these days. That’s why many skilled individuals are earning extra cash by setting up a welding shop in their garage. Whether welding is your day or side job, you need to be extremely cautious, even if you’re confident about your skills, to avoid accidents, such as fire.
In 2014-2018, US fire departments responded to 4,580 structure fires involving hot work. Among these, welding and cutting torches were the major types of equipment involved. So, here are safety practices that welders need to be aware of to reduce fire hazards:
1. Check Surroundings before You Begin Welding
Whether you’re in the shop, out in the fields, or your garage, you should investigate your welding area and its surroundings before even touching your welding machine. Take note that welding naturally produces dangerous fumes. Ensure that your welding area is well-ventilated if you’re not in an open location.
Remove all flammable materials nearby that can easily be set on fire, including rags, dust, dry leaves, cardboard boxes, paper bags, gas cylinders, wood, cans of paint, cleaning products, and solvents. If you’re working from home and your floor is made of wood, cover it with non-flammable materials before welding.
2. Evaluate Your Equipment
Some welders overlook wear and tear issues on their machines, like exposed or frayed hoses. Unfortunately, these events may result in accidents. It’s always best to inspect your welding machines before and after use.
Welding machine maintenance also plays a significant role in avoiding accidents, especially its electricity. Ensure to disconnect all the power units and vacuum or blow out the interior at least every six months. Consider having the machine checked by a technician at least once a year for the welding gun and liner assembly.
3. Be Familiar with Your Equipment
The welding technology has improved for the past few years – from dial to digital. So, even if you are an experienced welder, there might be some changes in welding machines that you don’t know. Besides, if you are familiar with your equipment, you’re confident with the quality of your work.
Ensure to read and understand the manufacturer’s instructions. If you work for a company, follow all internal safety practices. If you’re doing welding work at home, review, understand, and apply all safety measures required by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration).
4. Cover Cracks and Holes
Many don’t realize that flying sparks and molten metal that lodge in small openings of floors and partitions can cause a fire. Identify these holes and cracks in your welding area and cover them with the right non-flammable materials. If this is not possible, consider moving your welding area to a safer place or use non-flammable screens to block flying sparks from going into these holes.
5. Always Wear Appropriate Outfit and Gear
Welders are directly exposed to flying sparks and molten metal that can lodge in the crevices of their rolled-up sleeves, collar shirts, pockets, or pant cuffs, leading to a fire. To prevent these hazards, you should wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants that come over your shoes. Avoid synthetic clothes since they ignite easily.
You should use a welding helmet, goggles, and shield for your eyes and face to avoid radiation, irritation and chemical burns, intense light, and other potential physical injuries. If possible, use respirators as protection from fumes and oxides. Others include earmuffs or earplugs, gloves, and boots.
6. Keep a Fire Extinguisher Nearby
No matter how careful a person is, it’s always best to be prepared if worse comes to worst. Ensure that all areas in your working place where you perform welding have a fire extinguisher nearby. Remember that these equipment are the most effective in managing the early stages of fires.
Since there are many types of welding machines, go for the ones that suit a welding environment. It’s also vital that you and other personnel in your welding area know how to operate fire extinguishers.
Calling Emergency Services In Case of Fire
If you’re in the welding industry, you must understand welding hazards and risk management. Aside from the health risks, the fire hazard is the most common danger welders face every day. Ensure to keep emergency numbers at hand, such as your local fire department.
On top of these, it would be best if you knew any reliable property damage restoration professionals, such as PuroClean, to clean up, save and restore whatever they can in your workplace or home.