Welding is an essential skill for any pipefitter, but if you find yourself using welding tools on a regular basis, you should make sure to abide by these safety tips.
Piping systems are found in just about every industrial setting imaginable. If they are constructed with quality tools, they should be able to last quite a long time. However, even the most well made system will eventually succumb to wear and tear.
Be it the installation of new pipes or the maintenance of older ones, welding is one of the most necessary skills for pipefitters. Though you may be a seasoned veteran in this realm, it is important to always refresh yourself on the possible risks and hazards that can emerge when on the job. This way, you can avoid serious injuries on site. The American Welding Society offers a number of tips and fact sheets to help make sure that these practices are as safe as possible.
Electric shock is one major hazard that can emerge when welding. Giving the nature of what is being operated on, power supplies, wires and other metal parts touching an energized electrode can be exposed.
Some of the more obvious tips the AWS recommends are making sure you are properly trained and are not touching live electric parts, but there are also some general best practice tips you may be missing. Make sure that your workplace is properly insulated. This means wearing dry, hole-free, insulated gloves along with ground mats and covers to prevent contact with the task at hand or the floor.
The welding process can generate a massive amount of toxic fumes because of the reaction between high heat and metal. The effects of these fumes can be seen over time or immediately depending on the nature of the chemicals and where one is exposed.
With regard to fumes, it is important that your work area is well ventilated and circulates fresh air to make sure that harmful gas content is not too high. Also, make sure you are aware of the unique properties of each metal so that you know the properties of the fumes they produce. Most importantly, ensure that you do not breath in the fumes, or keep you head in the way of them.
The heat associated with welding is one of the most dangerous elements of the job. Pipefitters need to use torches that are extremely hot in order to mend the metal the way they want. This means that the potential for burns is quite high.
The AWS noted that sparks and splatter often fly off from the welding arc, which can cause burns and even radiation burns. It is important to make sure to use approved helmets or hand shields to protect ones face from these elements. Again, wearing high-quality gloves can also help, along with other fire resistant clothing.
Sparks can also lead to explosions and fire if one is not careful. Keep flammable products away from your work site, such as butane lighters, matches along with other flammable substances. If these products get on your clothing, make sure to change before you do anymore welding.
Generally, using common sense and high amounts of caution is the best remedy. There are a variety of cautions that one should be aware of when working in welding and pipefitting, but by working with high-quality tools, using the right safety equipment and being aware of the potential dangers, you can make sure that you are doing everything you can to practice safety on the job.