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Avoiding Electric Shock When Welding

Around 1,000 people die every year from electric shocks when welding, caused by using flawed welding equipment, or not paying due care and attention. Receiving an electric shock when welding shouldn’t be considered one of the unavoidable hazards of the job. As long as you follow the correct safety procedures, and make sure that your equipment is well maintained and regularly checked, then you can reduce the risk of accident.

What can cause electric shock?

Electric shock occurs when two metal objects that have voltage touch. Let us consider that 120 volts is a common voltage that is found in houses throughout the United States, as little as 50 volts may be enough to kill or seriously injure someone. The voltage inside welding equipment is way higher than this – usually between 120 and 575 volts, although sometimes more. Unless you follow the correct safety procedures, the chance of receiving electric shock are higher. So what can you do to make sure that you are safe when welding?

Assess Hazardous Areas

There are some areas that can be electrically hazardous, here are some examples:

  • A damp location

  • If you are wearing wet clothing

  • If you are welding whilst in a cramped position, for instance kneeling

  • If you are welding on a metal structure, such as scaffolding

You will need to consider if there is a high risk of a work accident, or chances of unavoidable contact with the ground or the work piece. Make sure that you have the right kind of equipment to weld under these circumstances. An AC Welder that has reduced voltage control, A DC manual (stick) welder, or a Semiautomatic DC constant voltage welder are the most appropriate under these circumstances.

Conduct safe working practices

Always remember that a stick electrode is going to be electrically hot whenever the welder is switched on. Don’t take any unnecessary chances in touching the electrode. You should make sure that you insulate your body when you are welding, to protect against the possibility of electric shock. Never rest your body on the workpiece when you are working, and use rubber mats, plywood or dry insulation to stand on. Make sure that you wear a dry pair of gloves that are in good condition.

Electric shock when welding can be serious, if not fatal. It is important that you follow safety procedures at all times.

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