As a welder, you often face potential hazards unique to the project and industry you are working in. For instance, welding in some industries like construction can sometimes call for the need to work at certain heights as part of your job description. If you’re working in infrastructure development and construction or new home construction, chances are that you may be working as a structural welder or tank welder. In fact, with several industries booming, the demand for welders continues to grow as employees benefit from higher pay packages and good benefits. However, as rewarding as such careers can be, it does come with its share of dangers, particularly for those working in high rise construction. With the increased chance of injury, it’s crucial that welders take the time to practice good safety and on the job habits to protect themselves, their colleagues and their future.
Pre-Identification Of Potential Hazards
One of the most common hazards faced when working at height is the risk of falls. However, for a welder, there are also more unique hazards faced, including the risk of secondary voltage shock, overexposure to welding fumes and explosions or fires. A good tip would be to implement a pre-commencement inspection of the worksite as a standard operating procedure. This should include checking that you are wearing the appropriate clothing (no rolled cuffs or sleeves) and dry gloves, checking the electrode holder for damage, and inspecting the area for any flammable materials such as gasoline or propane. You will also want to assess the space to ensure good movement whilst welding. Small spaces not only make free movement difficult, but also increase the chances of a misstep, stumble or fall resulting in injury.
Securing Appropriate Training In Use Of Aerial Tools
As a welder, you will need to be appropriately certified. However, for those working with heights, several other certifications can boost your safety. Many high rise projects will involve a boom truck rental and the use of other aerial lift machinery. Manufacturers and professional organizations now offer courses, including Bronto Skylift Operator License certification and the IPAF operator safety course. Alternatively, you can opt for OSHA fall protection training and certification. With aerial falls listed as the most common aerial platform injuries, taking the time to be trained in operating your equipment, recognizing the signs of and the techniques to avoid falls will no doubt boost your safety record.
Don’t Forget Your Height Safety Harness
Finally, do not underestimate the importance of a good quality full body safety harness in staying safe while working at height. Traditional harnesses are typically made from polyester, which can easily be compromised due to the heat of welding. A splatter from welding damages the polyester, which further weakens its strength. Instead, opt for harnesses made from heat resistant fabric such as Kevlar or Nomex, and choose models designed with a shock-absorbing lanyard to minimize the moment of impact.
Keep in mind this process is an ongoing one. You must continuously review and identify new risks as they become available (as should employers). Including these tips as a part of your foundational safety training can help you stay safe and overcome the hazards of both welding and working at heights