Welding PPE Part Two

Next we have the two that I think are the most under used PPE for welders by far. Ear plugs and respirators! Welding is super loud, with your basic stick weld at 80-89 decibels all the way up to 118 decibels for arc gouging and don’t forget the grinding. With noise levels this high you could cause serious and permanent damage in one 8 hour shift. Always make sure you’re wearing your earplugs properly, plus they really do the trick when you don’t want to listen to your fitter… Kidding…or am I? Now onto respirators. I see a lot of welders, old and new who refused to wear respirators. Lots of welders think if they smoke there’s no point. But if you’re filling your lungs with cigarette smoke you should give yourself a fighting chance and not fill them with welding fumes as well. For most welding applications a respirator is not required by your employer but I would highly recommend it, the gases and vapors created from welding can cause all sorts of problems. Trust me zinc poisoning is not fun; wear a respirator!

Your gloves need to be flame resistant, they will usually be leather but there are other options out there. Make sure they are the gauntlet kind to protect your wrist and arms. You should always be wearing long sleeves preferably a welding jacket or leathers. Be sure to stay covered-up even on those hot summer days. Exposure to UV rays can lead to skin cancer later in life. Make sure your clothing is fire or flame resistant, cotton, wool or other natural materials. Make sure they are free of grease or other flammable chemicals. Never tuck your pants into your boots or roll the cuff of your pants or sleeves up; this is a great place for hot slag to fly into and burn its way out. Now for your boots; they need to be a CSA approved work boot with at least 6 inches ankle coverage. Not required by employers, but I would highly recommend adding a rubber toe to your work boots as well as a metatarsal guard for those laces.

I know gearing up to do a weld can feel like you are bogged down with PPE, but working with temperatures upwards of 1500 degrees Celsius is crazy, and it’s even crazier not to protect yourself from that. Always load on your PPE before welding and keep Freddy Krueger in the movies and not the person looking back at you in the mirror.

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