by Idris Oyebamiji
It is estimated that there are 190,000 people in the UK who weld, comprising of around 73,000 professional, skilled welders and many other unskilled or semi-skilled welders. While welding is a common practice in many industries, it is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with the process.
One of the main risks associated with welding is the emission of fumes and gases, which can be harmful if inhaled. These fumes and gases can include substances such as ozone, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and hexavalent chromium. Exposure to these substances can lead to respiratory problems, lung cancer, and other health issues. The aim of this toolbox talks is to raise awareness and reduce the risks associated with welding.
Before carrying out welding, your assessment should consider the following factors:
§ Welding process, volume of work and level of fume generated.
§ Size of the component being welded.
§ Metal being welded (mild steel, stainless etc)
§ Consumable being used in the welding process.
If welding cannot be eliminated, consider:
§ Reducing the amount of welding.
§ Using a consumable that produces less fume.
§ A welding process that produces less fume.
§ Making sure the metal has been properly cleaned and prepared.
§ Automating or mechanising the process or job.
§ Using other engineering controls such as LEV.
Use the following tips to control welding risks:
Ventilation: This can include using local exhaust ventilation (LEV) systems to capture and remove fumes and gases at the source, or using general ventilation systems to ensure that the air in the work area is clean and breathable.
Personal protective equipment (PPE): This can include a respirator, gloves, and a welding helmet with a filter lens to protect the eyes from bright light and radiation.
Maintenance: Ensure that the welding equipment is in good working order and properly maintained. This can include regular inspections, cleaning, and repairs as needed.
First aid: The welding area should always be equipped with a fire blanket and a well-stocked first aid kit. It is desirable that one person be trained in first aid to treat the minor injuries that may occur. All injuries, no matter how minor they may seem can become more serious if not properly treated by trained medical personnel.
Welding presents risks to both the user and anyone in the work area and vicinity. Some associated health risks from inhalation can be significantly reduced with proper control measures in place that ensure work areas are clean and free from fumes. Other risks such as light radiation and burns can be reduced via enforced wearing of Personal Protective Equipment. Always ensure a First Aid Needs Assessment considers the risks of welding practices and ensure appropriate trained personnel and First Aid Boxes are in place at all times.
These simple tips can help you in your toolbox talk delivery:
Practice makes perfect. Yes, it's a cliché - but it's true...
Stay on topic. Try not to get side-tracked by other subjects or topics...
Keep it simple...
Engage and involve...
Speak then listen...
Check everyone understands and record everyone involved to keep record of training.
We at KVF really believe that Toolbox Talks are ideal for raising awareness.
Please remember, task specific training should take place only once the basics of health and safety training have been issued to your teams. To get more information on our e-learning platform Intuity Training, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Look out for our regular blogs and if there are any subjects you want to see included, let us know at email@example.com