Are you a welding technician or a person who often uses welding for any of the general fabrication processes? Are you aware of PPE…? or types of PPE used in a welding process. A professional welder always needs to adhere to safety practices while on the field and should have knowledge of choosing the correct PPE for the relevant welding task. Let’s get familiarized with the general types of PPE widely used in welding purposes.
BRIEF ON THE WELDING PROCESS.
Welding is one of the extensive fabrication processes in the product manufacturing and construction field where the operator/welder needs to be more aware of personal safety. The process runs mainly using electrical and thermal sources in which proper handling and safety practices need to be utilized to minimize burns, electric shock, damaged vision, and other health issues while working. General types of welding types can be categorized for your understanding as follows.
- Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW/MIG)– This is the most popular welding process widely used in the construction and automotive industries. It uses a thin wire which acts as an electrode along with a supply of inert gas as a shield. Welding is accomplished by a constant and direct current poser source that heats up the metals (mainly Steel, Copper, Nickel & Aluminum) to be joined. The main drawbacks of this process are the inability to weld thicker metals and the cost of shielding gas.
- Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW/TIG)– This process is widely used in the welding of thin metals and non-ferrous materials in the aviation industry. Uses a fixed non-consumable tungsten electrode with an external gas supply for the welding process. This process needs well-trained personnel as it takes skill and precision to accomplish smooth welding.
- Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW)– This is the general type of welding process that is prevalent in any of the general fabrication processes. This is also known as stick welding which uses a stick-type electrode in it. The quality of the welding is somewhat low when compared to other processes but it is the most cost-effective process in the industry.
- Flux-cored Arc Welding (FCAW) – This process replaces the shield welding process. It includes self-shielding agents in a continuous wire which decompose with the wire when welding. It is often used outdoors as it generates smoke and fumes during the process.
Apart from the above-discussed welding types, some other processes like Laser Beam, Electron Beam, Plasma Arc, Atomic Hydrogen Welding are prevailing in the construction and manufacturing fields. For each process, the operator or welder must use proper PPE adhering to the safety standards and recommended practices.
WHAT IS PPE & WHY “PPE” IS NECESSARY?
If you are using welding for any fabrication process, you should be aware of the word “PPE”. PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment which are the items that any person involved in hazardous fabrication processes need to be equipped with. It is not only for the engineering industry but also used in other industries to minimize exposure to hazards for working personnel. There are some standards that have been put to address the proper use of PPE and its design aspects. Some of them are ANSI/ISEA 15-2014 (American National Standards Institute), OHSA 1910 Subpart I (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) standards. These standards have categorized the PPE for general requirement, for the head, foot, eye, and face protection, and have addressed the following aspects too.
- The design of PPE– The design should be ergonomic and shall be of safe design for the work to be followed.
- The hazard or conformity assessment – Conform to product standards based on hazard category, along with conducting approved test methods and certifying the PPEfor industrial usage.
- The proper care, maintenance, useful life, and disposal of the PPE.
- Specific training – How to use PPEfor general and industrial processes.
The above standards are compiled to minimize the damage caused to each person working in a hazardous environment. If you are a welding engineer or technician you must conform to the above standards and safety practices when welding. For general practices, it is good to adhere to the aspects of the above standards so you can choose a better PPE for your welding process.
GENERAL TYPES OF PPE FOR WELDING
Personnel safety can be highly ensured with the appropriate use of PPE in the welding field. Some general types of PPE that can be used in the field of welding are Safety goggles, Safety gloves, Helmets, Fire/Flame resistant aprons, Welding boots, Earplugs, and respirators.
Normally if you are working in a manufacturing or construction organization, you will have proper training on how to you these PPE in the working environment. It is a good practice to locate your PPE for the welding process in a separate area and depict the wording and illustrations representing proper handling and usage in the workshop environment.
Let’s look into a few of the most essential PPEs found in the market that can be used in your day-to-day welding purposes and also for industrial usage.
Wearing safety gloves is the first-line defense for hands. It can protect you from cuts, scratches, heat, electric shocks, and fires. If you are a professional welder, you must wear flame-resistant and insulating gloves according to the ANSI Z49.1, BS EN 12477 standards per your organization’s guidance. Generally, gloves are fabricated per type of welding which is been used. The thread type, fit, and linings will vary in accordance with the type. For example, bigger heavily padded gloves are used in MIG welding. Normally these are built by using cowhide split-grain leather with flame retardant lining to achieve a durable product. For TIG welding, gloves are much smaller with thinner padding and very flexible as heat resistance is not an important factor. A glove for stick welding ideally an extreme heat resistance one with top grade leather and cotton linear.
Here are some recommended safety gloves, arm sleeves in the market that can be used for general welding purposes.
Product review – Most of the high-temperature work can be handled by these extreme heat resistant gloves manufactured with high-quality leather with thickness depth 1.2mm, heat insulation with fireproof, and soft sweat absorbent cotton inside. These gloves can withstand a temperature at least of 662 °F (350 °C). The characteristics discussed above well match your welding applications.
Product review – The above arm sleeve provides you protection for the upper hand area when welding. It is designed with high comfortable fabric and built to resist wear and punctures. Uses a cowhide leather bending with a non-slippery effect. Ideal for welding as well as cutting, sanding and repairing in the construction industry.
It is always wise to use leather aprons due to their resistance and flexibility. It can easily protect you from high-temperature products, radiation, flying molten metals, hot slag, sparks, intense heat, chemical burns produced during welding. No doubt that Leather protects better than most materials. But make sure that the apron will fit and be comfortable for handling welding applications. It is a wise decision to choose a full apron rather than half covered. Use of aprons made up of Clothing made of polyester, acetate, or acrylic with cotton blend should be avoided as these materials catch flames and get ignited easily. Cowhide, Pigskin, leather, and flame retardant aprons are recommended types that can be used in welding applications.
Product review – The above full-body apron is an ideal choice for your daily welding applications. Fabricated using cowhide leather and includes an adjustable strap for your size. Recommended for industrial welding processes where the entire body is exposed to the welding application.
Eye protection is the most important. The welder’s flash or any other damage to the eye can be happened due to rays (UV, IR), heat, fire, or other debris during the process. This can be easily avoided with the use of safety goggles. Standard safety goggles and glasses must comply with ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-1989 for industrial usage. But general safety goggles can be recommended covering the aspects of the above-mentioned standards.
Product review – This product consists of unique ventilation holes which prevent glasses from fogging over which keeps you comfy. A significant feature of this safety goggle is the best safety with improved compliance.
Helmets/Masks protect the face, forehead, neck, ears from radiant energy and weld spatter. Apart from goggles, it protects the entire upper body area down to the neck providing better safety. There are several masks/helmets in the market customized in shape and color with compliance to the safety standards, you can choose helmets specifically for your requirement.
Product review – The above cowhide mask hood covers the entire neck area which is a good design for safety. It also contains an auto-darkening filter lens that can prevent ultraviolet, infrared, splash, and welding radiation. Ideal for major types of welding processes such as ARC, TIG, MIG.
Product review – This product provides full-range UV/IR protection. Comfy to use as it’s lightweight. This has an adjustable headband with a removable and washable sweatband to ensure superior welding quality and operator comfort. Especially suitable for ARC, TIG, MIG, Spot, Micro, Wire, AC, DC, and Plasma Welders and Plasma Cutters.
Apart from smoke goggles, masks, and helmets, respirator PPE types are widely used in Flux-cored Arc Welding type as it generates smoke especial oxides from the welding process which can lead to breathing difficulties while working. In such instances, it is recommended to use a respirator as the welder spends a considerable number of working hours daily.
Product review – The above respirator mask can be recommended for welding instances mentioned above. It has a highly efficient air purifying filter is included and covers the half face. The filter can be used for up to 7 days and is replaceable.
The use of PPE is highly recommended when you are working in a hazardous environment. Many standards have been set up for working personnel to choose the best PPE for the ideal tasks, handling, and storage in a proper manner. It is always a good approach to comply with the standards relevant to your field when choosing PPE for welding applications. For the general PPE, it is good to find an approved one or similar type as recommended earlier in the discussion. As there are varieties of welding applications, it is good to choose the better PPE per each welding process type. Always keep in mind that the market price is not only the main aspect when buying a perfect PPE. Durability, handling flexibility, comfortability, and material quality are other factors you should bear in my mind. Ultimately, it’s your safety at first you should be concerned prior to any other work.
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