Dangers of Welding Fumes in the Workplace

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Welding continues to be an excellent career choice, as the demand continues to rise with the older generation aging out of the workforce. Filling these positions is a concern, while welding shops and business continue to grow. With this sort of turnover and growth, one of the primary areas that needs to be paid attention to is safety. The hazards for welders can be high, and individuals and companies have to meet these safety issues head-on.

Hazards in Welding Areas
There are obvious hazards in welding areas that are easy to identify, even for non-welder – the flammability hazards from the flying sparks, the dangers to vision from debris and bright light, the hearing concerns from the noise. However, potentially the biggest hazard is much harder to identify, as it can’t be seen or heard.
The burning of gas and melting of metal in welding creates airborne metal fumes that contain a wide range of elements. Metals such as aluminum, arsenic and lead, and gases such as argon, carbon dioxide, nitric oxide and phosgene all meld together in a potentially toxic yet invisible cloud of welding fumes. Health effects of these can include:

• Eye, nose, and throat irritation, dizziness, and nausea from acute exposure
• Lung damage and various types of cancer including lung and larynx cancer from prolonged exposure
• Fume-specific health effects, such as Parkinson’s-like symptoms due to exposure to manganese fumes
• Potential suffocation hazard in confined or enclosed spaces
• Asphyxiation hazard from carbon monoxide

Reduction and Prevention of Fume-Related Dangers
With these potential hazards, welders need to have the right safety equipment, and to address fumes, the best course is to provide the best possible fume extraction system. Proper ventilation will allow for the removal and dissipation of these toxic fumes, and reduce the potential for short-term and long-term effects. If fume exposure cannot be reduced enough through ventilation, personal respiratory protection should also be incorporated.

Here at Flexaust, we are devoted to safety, and offer a lengthy catalogue of hoses for welding fume extraction. These allow for you to customize your ventilation system to fit the needs of your shop, the needs of your tasks, and your budget. Looking after your workers, both new workers and veterans, needs to be at the top of your list, and nothing demonstrates more of a commitment to their health and well-being than providing the safest possible welding space. Contact us today to help develop a solution for your welding spaces!