Arc welding can be a hazardous activity, even for the most experienced worker. Whether you’re responsible for a crew’s safety or are an independent fabricator, these tips will help you to keep yourself and others safe.

Tip #1 – Read the owner’s manual, warning labels and relevant codes

The manual will contain important safety information, and warning labels on equipment show you what specifically to avoid doing. Knowing federal, state, and local codes ensure that safe working practices are being followed.

Tip #2 – Avoid electric shock

Arc welders typically operate at a range of 80v to 120v. The shock can be life threatening, particularly if there are preexisting health conditions, and it can cause workers to fall or stumble into other equipment. Do not touch the electrode or the work circuit, and do not access the internal circuits while the unit is live.

Tip #3 – Shield eyes and skin from UV light

Always wear gloves without holes and a proper welding mask. Don’t wear shorts or short sleeves and cover exposed areas of the skin.

Tip #4 – Avoid burns

Avoid handling hot equipment or metal that has recently been welded. If handling it is necessary, use insulated gloves. Allow equipment to cool down before using it again.

Tip #5 – Maintain your equipment

Don’t overuse your equipment as this can cause it to overheat. Allow time for cooling and reduce the current if this occurs. Replace any damaged equipment immediately. Keep cables free of oil and dirt and ensure that electric cables are not frayed.

Tip #6 – Avoid breathing fumes

Ventilate confined spaces or use a respirator. If an area isn’t naturally ventilated, use a fan or other artificial ventilation. Avoid welding on coated materials such as galvanized or cadmium plated steel as these will produce toxic fumes. Do not weld near chemicals. The heat and UV rays can cause them to release fumes.

Tip #7 – Protect your eyes and ears

After removing the welding helmet, wear goggles or safety glasses to prevent slag from entering the eyes. The welding process and some types of equipment can create a lot of noise, so it’s important to wear hearing protection equipment.

Tip #8 – Wear the right gear

Welding can throw of hot bits of debris. Even after the welding job is done, tiny pieces of slag can ping off the weld. Wear leather shoes and a leather apron to prevent clothes from catching fire. Do not wear clothes made of synthetic materials. For better protection, wear a lightweight welding jacket.

Tip #9 – Protect against explosions

Sparks from welding can cause flammable gasses to ignite. In an enclosed space such as a tanker, drum or pipe, this can cause an explosion. Gas cylinders used in the welding process are under high pressure. Keep far enough away in order to avoid sparks or slag and protect them from excessive heat.

Tip #10 – Maintain a safe work environment

Keep your work environment free of clutter to avoid falls or other accidents. Do not work in wet areas or areas which are too cramped. Ensure that all workers know the safety rules and are following them.

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