Protecting your Welders from Health Hazards

A WelderIf you operate or own a manufacturing plant that involves welding operations, you are most likely aware that the process produces dangerous gases like silicates, fluorides, and metallic oxides.

Your workers’ level of exposure to hazardous gases depends on some specific factors, and they determine the health risks involved. One of these is the effectiveness of their personal safety equipment, which includes the use of downdraft tables.

What are downdraft tables and how can it help protect welders from health hazards?

Health Risks

Welding gases are toxic and are difficult to detect because they do not exude any odor and are invisible. For instance, welding stainless steel generates hexavalent chromium fumes, which is a carcinogen.

Other health risks that welding fumes and gases present include:

  • Respiratory damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Lung cancer
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Vomiting and/or nausea
  • Dizziness and headaches
  • Metal fume fever
  • Throat, nose, and eye irritation
  • Nervous system damage
  • Stomach ulcers

Safety Equipment

To counteract these adverse health effects, consider having your welders use downdraft tables to trap and filter these fumes. Downdraft tables have ventilated work surfaces that provide welders with a hands-free approach to “capture-at-source” the toxic fumes.

They enable welders to eliminate these airborne hazards without needing to use a hood for their weld arc. Downdraft tables also remove the need for welders to wear uncomfortable respirators because it seizes the toxic fumes even before it reaches the nose.

Things to Remember

The right downdraft table could help ease your predicament. You should also consider specific factors when determining which OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) safety guidelines apply to your manufacturing operations.

For instance, for every airborne hazard, OSHA mandates specific PELs or permissible exposure limits as well as the time-weighted average of contaminant exposure. Whenever welding generates highly concentrated levels of fumes, OSHA requires capture-at-source ventilation.

With this in mind, consider these factors to enhance safety in the workplace and comply with OSHA standards.