Welding and cutting are two different processes that both pose significant health risks. While arc welding and plasma welding use oxy-acetylene gas, both types can generate harmful fumes and vapors. Brazing and soldering involve filler metals or alloys that are highly toxic to human health. Cutting uses pure oxygen steam or flame to cut metal. Both processes pose significant noise hazards, which may cause permanent hearing loss.
To minimize fire hazards, employees should know the location of fire escapes and fire fighting equipment. Before welding, workers should inspect the welding equipment for damage. Equipment that has been contaminated with grease should be removed from service. When handling hot metal, operators should use metal tongs to handle it and keep the piece from falling to the floor. When quenching metal, workers should use soapstone or other marking materials to label the metal.
Another significant reason for welding deaths is asphyxiation. Confined spaces, such as storage tanks, can create a hazardous atmosphere if the ventilation is inadequate. Moreover, the air inside such areas can contain toxic materials, flammable gases, and vapors that may be lethal to workers. Welders should wear proper protective equipment to minimize exposure to these hazardous materials. Occupational hygiene air sampling is a useful method for assessing workplace air quality.
Other welding and cutting hazards examples include: exposure to ozone and carbon monoxide, which deprive the body of oxygen. Using these materials can create toxic fumes that can cause death if inhaled. Stainless steel and coated materials, including those made from copper or titanium, also pose serious health risks. Furthermore, different filler metals have their own set of hazards. For example, some tungsten contains thorium, which can be inhaled in the grinding area. In addition to welding and cutting hazards examples, compressed gases and liquefied gases present unique risks. They can cause an explosion or accelerate combustion.