Welding is a construction activity that poses serious health and safety risks to hundreds of thousands of construction workers. Statistics show that over 1 in 250 construction workers will suffer fatal injuries from welding over a working lifetime. Because of the risks and dangers associated with welding there are regulations that require certain safety measures be taken. These safety measures are intended to reduce the risks of welding.
What Are Some of the Hazards of Welding?
Welding can be dangerous in a variety of ways. Not only are there injuries that can be immediately felt, such as burns, but there can be injuries that take time to develop. Some of the hazards of welding include the following:
- Exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) – UV is created by the electric arc in the welding process. If the skin is exposed to UV, it can result in severe burns. In addition, UV exposure can damage the lens of the eye which can lead to what is called "arc-eye." Arc-eye is a condition in which it feels as though there is sand in the eye.
- Exposure to infrared radiation (IR) – IR is also created by the electric arc as well as other cutting equipment. IR can heat the surface of the skin as well as the tissues just below the skin. This can lead to thermal burns.
- Exposure to intense visible light – If the eye is exposed to intense visible light it can result in a variety of injuries, including adaptation, pupillary reflex, and shading of the eyes. In particular, retinal damage can be sustained during arc welding.
What Can I Do to Protect Myself from These and Other Types of Injuries?
Protection from these types of injuries usually comes in the form of protective eyewear and clothing. Most welders avoid exposure to UV and IR by wearing a welder’s helmet or goggles.
Does My Employer Have to Take Any Steps to Reduce the Likelihood of Injury?
Employers are required to assess all hazards of the workplace and address them appropriately. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires that a workplace be safe and that any hazards be remedied. When it comes to welding, you employer must determine what hazards there are and whether protective equipment is necessary.
If I’ve Been Injured in a Welding Accident Do I Need a Lawyer?
If you’ve been injured in a welding accident you may have a case against your employer. Even if you haven’t been injured but your workplace is full of hazards you may be able to file a claim with OSHA against you employer. An experienced business lawyer can advise you of your rights and what remedies are available to you.