To say the least, welding, cutting and brazing operations are hazardous hot work. Persons who do this type of work must know the risks of their jobs, and how to control them. Dangers are always present in welding tasks. It has been pointed out that the leading cause of welding accidents is carelessness. Welders need to take this type of work seriously, and leave it to the professionals. A good pro welder can teach a novice how to make the connection between skill and safety.
Several methods of welding are used in order to join metals together through melting and creating a tight bond:
- Gas. A propane torch is used to sweat a joint or solder two pieces of metal together. This is the lowest heat, used for small jobs.
- Oxyacetylene torch. The most universal type of welding tool, which allows more heat.
- Oxypropane. A less costly type of welding than gas or oxyacetylene.
- Arc welding. A machine creates heat through an electric arc. There are two types of arc welding: Mig (Metal Inert Gas ) and Tig (Tungsten Inert Gas ).
Overall, while both MIG and TIG are gas shielded arc welding processes, the primary difference lies in the way the filler metal is added to produce the weld. With the TIG process, the arc is created between a tungsten electrode mounted in a hand-held torch and the work piece to be welded. The MIG process uses a filler metal which is the electrode and the arc is created when the filler metal comes into contact with the work. An advantage of MIG welding is that it is faster than TIG welding, and somewhat easier for a novice welder to use. TIG welding requires more skill, therefore, the user of a TIG welder should have sufficient experience as a welder. Regardless of the welding method that is used, this type of work comes with many risks, and requires welders to be outfitted with the correct personal protective equipment. Remember, welding is a way of heating pieces of metal using electricity or a flame so that they melt and stick together, – thousands of degrees!
Virtually all parts of welders’ bodies must be protected by the proper gear: beginning with a welder’s cap, safety goggles, glasses, and a welding hood with the correct lens filter for the particular task. Welders must wear the right kind of gloves, and clothing that covers their skin and can’t catch sparks. Leather aprons, and leggings are needed for the hot work, and dry welder’s gloves are for arc welding. Good boots are needed to protect the legs and feet.
The work areas where welding is done should be free from combustible and flammable materials, ventilation should be adequate, and all persons should review MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) that apply to the particular job. A fire extinguisher should be nearby. If a welder is working in confined spaces, there should be a trained partner standing by with first aid equipment, in case of emergency.
If that’s not “hot work,” I don’t know what is! Not only are they working with heated metal and welding sparks, but in the summer time, all the protective clothing they must wear is very bulky! Welding is an integral part of creating and repairing many things that we take for granted. Being a welder means being a member of a specialized work group.