Are you a beginner to welding?
If so, safety is probably on your mind. I get a lot of emails from people who want to know what welding safety gear to buy, so I’ve decided to make a top 8 list for you.
Welding shop safety is crucial for 3 reasons…
- You could easily cause damage to you, your kids, or your pets without proper welding safety equipment
- You could end up with severe arc burns from the ultra-violet light emitted by arc welding
- Without knowing about these safety tools, you could cut off a finger or even hospitalize yourself.
This article is meant to help you, the beginner, learn what welding shop safety is all about.
Welding for prolonged periods of time without ventilation could result in respiratory illness, and can even lead to pneumonia in some cases.
If you’re planning to weld on galvanized metal, be very careful. You can get what’s called welding fume fever. When the zinc coating (galvanized) starts to burn, it releases a WICKED blue smoke. If you see that, you’ll want to first grind off all of the galvanized coating.
According to the CDC.gov “Excessive exposure to welding fumes can cause a variety of disorders, most notably metal fume fever. It has been estimated that 30 to 40 percent of all welders have experienced metal fume fever at some time.”
While it’s not necessary to have a fume extractor like in the image above, it’s important to be aware of what you’re breathing in.
Just remember to never weld without having some sort of ventilation. You don’t have to worry about this with MIG welding or TIG welding, but if you’re learning to weld with a stick welder or flux core arc welder that produces welding smoke, make sure it’s ventilated.
2. Welding Helmet
Your welding helmet is the most important piece of welding safety equipment you have.
You can go with an auto-darkening helmet (recommended), or you can use a fixed shade helmet. The auto-darkening welding helmet does just what it says. It immediately darkens when the arc is started so you can visibly see the weld puddle, and so you don’t get arc burn in your eyes.
Many people who want to learn welding might think it’s ok to use cutting torch goggles, but it’s not. Those have a shade 5 lens, and for arc welding you need a shade 9 or higher.
You can find some good helmets for not much money, but don’t go too cheap. I found this out the hard way when I had 2 chinese made helmets go out on me in a year. Spend at least $60 to $70 to get a decent welding helmet.
3. Welding Sleeves
Welding sleeves are made of leather or a fire proof material that won’t burn through when sparks hit your arms.
They come in very handy when welding, and especially when you start to notice that all your work shirts are getting tiny holes in the arms from sparks. You can buy a welding jacket but they get very hot, especially the leather ones.
Welding sleeves will keep you relatively cool, and many come with an attachable apron.
4. Welding Boots
One time when I was welding a project, I got lazy and decided not to put my boots on.
I put my tennis shoes on, lit my cutting torch, and wasn’t paying attention to where the piece of hot metal would fall. Well, it fell right on my foot.
It didn’t burn me, but it was a heavy piece of steel. I ruined my shoes, and decided to always wear my steel toes after that. I see some people who like to tuck their pants inside their boots, but that a terrible idea when welding.
If one hot spark falls inside your boot, you’ll be doing the Texas 2-Step. Always keep your pants outside of your boots.
5. Welding Gloves
I would put welding gloves as the #2 most important welding shop safety tip.
Without them, it’s just not smart to weld. Out of habit you’ll want to grab pieces of metal with your hands, and if you just laid a weld on it, you’ll be hurtin’ for certain’.
One time I took off my gloves after laying a weld, and without thinking twice, I reached down and picked up the workpiece. Not sure why, but I did.
6. Welding Cap
When welding overhead, you can either choose to have hot sparks all over your head, or you can get a welding cap.
Welding caps are great for these situations because they are made of a burn-proof material. When you combine it with welding sleeves, you can rest assured you won’t be melting your hair or your skin.
It’s a necessary piece of welding safety equipment to have around your shop.
7. Safety Glasses
Don’t even think about touching a grinder or cutting device without having your safety glasses on.
I keep a pair on at all times, even when I have my welding helmet on. I wear them under my welding helmet. This way I can flip up my helmet, and use my grinder without having to go searching for my glasses.
They are essential to your safety. You never know when a grinding spark will hit you in the eye.
They are worth the investment, which isn’t much.
8. Welding Curtain
Welding curtains come in very handy if you have children or pets running around.
The curtain works to shield the damaging arc rays from onlookers eyes’. It’s a great option to have in your welding shop safety arsenal.
Simply set it up in a corner of your shop, and you can have peace of mind when others are around.