Welding fumes are hazards to any welder especially when working in confined spaces. Confined spaces such as tanks, cabs of mobile equipment and large shovels can prove to be exceptionally hazardous to welders and others exposed to welding fumes. The way this danger is minimized is through the use of adequate ventilation. Ventilation of welding fumes is something that an employer or an employers safety department should provide for workers. If it is not provided, they should give the workers proper instruction on how to ventilate confined spaces. Any welder whose employer ignores ventilation of welding fumes is putting employees at risk. Ventilation can be accomplished by the use of two fans with tubing attached. One fan should be blowing into the tank and the other blowing out of the tank. One tube should be in the tank or confined space and the other coming out of the manhole or some type of access point.
Welding fumes can contain different types of hazardous materials depending on the composition of the substrate and welding rods used in welding activities. Iron and steel substrates with rods of similar composition will produce mostly iron oxide fumes. Stainless steel fumes contain nickel and chromium. Plated, galvanized or painted metals may generate fumes of cadmium, zinc oxide or even lead. Toxic gases such as carbon monoxide can be produced in welding fumes as well. In general welding can generate many different types of fumes that are dangerous to anyone close enough to inhale them, especially in confined spaces where welding often takes place.
Ventilation can prevent these injuries from welding fumes. Ventilation is so important because welders often do not wear any type of respiratory protection. Often, welders only protection from welding fumes is a welding hood. Welding hoods protect the eyes from ultraviolet lights and spatter from the welding arc but offer no protection from the welding fumes in the air. Respiratory protection for welders is available but not widely used. This is why ventilation is absolutely necessary for anyone welding in confined spaces.
Exposure to welding fumes can be detected by looking for symptoms including eye and skin irritation, nausea, headache, dizziness and metal fume fever. Chronic injuries of the respiratory tract and lungs as well as the central nervous system can result from ingestion of large quantities of welding fumes. Lung cancer and Parkinson’s disease are some of the more serious chronic diseases that can result from unchecked ingestion of welding fumes.
The Lambert Firms represents victims of personal injury accidents. If you or a loved one has experienced a welding injury, contact The Lambert Firm today for a free case evaluation.