The welding process exposes you to harmful substances and gases. To prevent inhalation of dust, fumes, or other hazardous contaminants, you need a respirator. However, not all types of respirators are equally effective in providing the required degree of protection for welding operators. This is because different types of respirators have different efficiency ratings. Very few offer of personal protective equipment for welding an optimum balance of effectiveness, cost and convenience that make it worth investing in PPE.
Photos by MeridianMedia, YT
A welding helmet provides respiratory protection, but other welding clothing does not. Regardless of the type of welding helmet you use, your welding clothes should be approved for use with the helmet. These include a face shield, gloves and an apron. For protection against splatter, you can wear an appropriate welding suit that is approved for use with welding helmets.
When working with the most harmful substances, you should also wear an appropriate, chemical resistant apron. This can be a combination of an upper garment, such as a coverall, and a lower garment, such as a skirt. Finally, when welding outdoors, a welding jacket or t-shirt is also needed.
For protection against dust and fumes, a respirator can be used. There are two types of respirators, either supplied as part of a welding ensemble or as a portable unit that can be worn by an employee. A welding respirator is designed to protect the welder against inhaled dust particles, silt and fumes. It has a filtering facepiece and a hose connected to an air flow system that exhausts inhaled air.
The air flow system required to operate the respirator may have to be connected to the welder’s gas supply. So, the wearer’s workstation must have a source of compressed gas, such as a gas bottle or a gas generator. A high-efficiency particulate filter (HEPA) filter is the preferred type of filter for welding respirators.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has also approved welding respirators with carbon filters. HEPA and carbon filters operate by collecting and holding on to dust particles. They can trap bacteria and other infectious agents inside the respirator, keeping them from entering the wearer’s body. HEPA filters are frequently used in the welding industry because they can remove 99.97% of the particulate matter found in air.
However, there are also lower-efficiency filters available for certain applications, such as in metalworking and metal furnace industries. You can also choose from different fiber types, such as spun-bond and open-cell, for your welding respirator. The fiber type will affect how much protection it offers against fumes and dust.
Gas Tight Welding Helmet (GTWH)
A gas tight welding helmet, also known as a gas-tight helmet, is made to keep the welder’s head and face away from an open flame while welding. It is made of thick, heavy-gauge steel with an adjustable internal head band to accommodate different head sizes. The helmet also has a built-in air filtration system to remove gases from the air and a smoke filter to keep the welder’s eyes safe.
It has a three-position exhaust valve that can be adjusted to tailor the amount of air flow to the face. It is pressurized with nitrogen to prevent dust particles from entering the helmet and to provide better protection against dust and gas. The helmet is also approved for use in certain pressure environments.
Skin and Eye Protection
When working with hazardous substances, a welding helmet and suit may be required. These two sets of protective clothing may be referred to as a “torso suit.” When welding outdoors, a jacket and pants, or a welding jacket and welding pants, are also needed. With these clothing items, you can protect yourself from the elements, splatter, and hazardous substances. Your gloves should be approved for use with the items you are welding, and they should have good tactile sensitivity to prevent you from grabbing the wrong items.
Your welding helmet should be standard or half-face. It should have an adjustable internal headband to ensure a proper fit. If you have a welding helmet that does not have an adjustable internal headband, you can cut off the bottom of the helmet to ensure proper headgear fit.
Wrapped Hands Protection
When working with hazardous substances, a welding glove and glove cover may be required. The welding glove should be approved for use with the welding suit and helmet. It should have good tactile sensitivity to prevent you from grabbing the wrong item. The glove cover should be made from a material that is approved for use with gloves and the welding suit. It should protect your hands from harmful substances.
Other Personal Protective Equipment for Welding Safety
There are also several other types of PPE or personal protective equipment that may be required for welding safety. These include a welding respirator with a laser pointer, welding goggles, welding boots and a welding cart.
Last word about personal protective equipment for welding
Welding is a highly demanding work that can be dangerous if not properly done. Therefore, protecting yourself is essential. This can be done by using the right welding equipment, clothing and personal protective equipment for welding or other safety gear.