Radiation and Fumes from Welding

When welding there are several things you need to take under consideration. Here you can read about the proper precautions.

Training

It is absolutely essential for welders and supervisors to be trained in:

  • Safe use of equipment
  • Methods
  • Emergency actions.


The regulations ashore require health and safety training for welding. This replaces the requirement at sea when maritime training courses include a health and safety module. Seahealth Denmark has made a film on welding for crew who have not attended such courses. Order the DVD at SEAHEALTH webshop.

 

Radiation from the arc

A welding arc generates:

  • Ultraviolet radiation (can damage skin and eyes)
  • Visible light (can dazzle the eyes and impair eyesight)
  • Infrared (hot) radiation (can damage skin and eyes)

Such radiation can be either direct or reflected from surfaces such as polished metal or light coloured objects.

Protecting eyes and face

The eyes and face should be protected by face masks fitted with suitable eye-protection filters.

Protecting the body

The body should be protected by suitable clothing.
The use of neck protection can be necessary against reflected radiation.

Protecting people nearby welding

It is recommended that non-reflective screens should be used to protect the welder and other personnel from arc radiation. Warnings should also be provided of the danger of radiation from the arc, either signs or having an attendant on duty.

Welding fume

Arc welding and other similar processes produce welding smoke/fume which contaminates the air locally. Welding fume is a varying mix of airborne gases and fine particulates that are harmful to health if inhaled or swallowed. Welding fume is regarded as a carcinogen.

The risk depends on:

  • The chemical composition of the fume
  • The concentration of the fume
  • The length of exposure

Welding fume can be controlled by a wide range of measures, such as point extraction and ventilation, technical management, working methods and personal protection.
First of all, find out if the harmful effects can be prevented by totally eliminating welding fume. If not, then check out ways of reducing the amount of welding fume produced. Consider removing welding fume at source. The use of breathing equipment should not be considered before all other options have been excluded. Normally, breathing equipment should only be used as a temporary solution. Nevertheless, there can be situations when personal protection is required in addition to extraction.
Point extraction must be provided for welding facilities in workshops, etc. Mobile point extraction should normally be provided for welding operations outside the workshop.

Noise

The noise levels generated during welding can be harmful.
>> Read more in the section on noise

Protecting against electric shocks

The operator should take care to be insulated from the electrode, the workpiece and any earthed metal objects nearby. This can be normally be done by wearing dry gloves without any holes in them, clothing, hood and footwear and dry flooring, insulating mats, etc.
The supervisor should decide whether the proposed insulation is appropriate. The operator should be aware that any direct contact with both connections providing welding current or its connections can be fatal. The operator should also be aware that a metal ladder or scaffolding can greatly increase the risk of electrocution.

Disconnection of the welding circuit from the workpiece and earth when not in use

Electrode holders and burner circuits should be disconnected when not in use. Electrodes for manual welding should be removed from the holder when welding is complete and if the earthing clamp has been removed, then it must be isolated from direct contact with the ship or any other conductors. The operator should ensure that the earthing clamp is either connected to the workpiece or else isolated from any direct contact with the ship or any other electrical conductors.

Maintenance of equioment and working conditions

All equipment should be kept in good condition and should be inspected. Defects should be immediately repaired or equipment removed from the workplace. Gas cylinders (protective gas) should be stored or securely fixed so that they cannot fall or be knocked over.

Usage

All working materials should be positioned in such a way that they do not constitute a risk or obstacle in passageways, on ladders or steps and they should always be used as per manufacturer’s directions.

Legislation

Welding legislation is contained in Danish Maritime Authority Notices B, Ch. II-4 on working areas and workspace organisation and equipment.
Please also see Seahealth Denmark Sector Guidance No. 2 on local/point extraction.

Senior Occupational Health Consultant

Anne L. Ries

alr@seahealth.dk

+45 3311 1833

+45 2961 8860

I can help you with:

  • Safety Organization
  • Consultancy
  • Physical working environment
  • The program Health and Safety at Sea
  • Legislation at sea