Eye Safety Tools While Welding
Welders face a number of work-related hazards daily, from harmful bright light to burns from molten metals. To ensure safety in the workplace, both the employers and employees need to recognize the hazards and prevent accidents.
Eye injury is the most common type injury and it can occur from radiation and intense light produced by a welding arc. It can also result from, sparks, hot slag and other flying particles that can fly off from the weld during grinding, chipping or cooling. Majority of these eye-related injuries results in irreversible blindness every year.
All forms of welding can lead to eye injuries most of which are permanent. Stick Welding is a common type of welding that produces very bright light. This light can result into arc eye, a condition that is characterized by a painful cornea and watery eyes. Arc eye can occur even when you look at the arc for a very short time. This is why you need to protect your eyes.
Lack of protective equipment or improper eye protection is the leading cause of most of these injuries. As such, all welders should know the best safety practices related to eye protection during welding. Such practices entail proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure that the eyes are protected while on job.
Basic Eye Safety Tools
Eye protection equipment should match the application and associated risks. The equipment includes safety goggles, safety glasses, welding helmets, and faceshields.
Note: Always wear eye protection that is appropriate for the type of welding and on the basis of visual requirements of the job.
1. Safety Glasses. Safety glasses are a simple way to protect the eyes against optical and impact radiation. They should be worn under a welding helmet in every welding situation. While some welders may not feel comfortable while wearing safety glasses, owning a pair is an important safety measure and eventually, it will become a routine.
The level of protection offered will depend on filter lens density. It is recommended that you select the darkest shade possible as it allows maximum task performance. Safety glasses used in torch brazing must-have shades 3-4 while more advanced electric arc welding needs shade number 10-14.
As for gas metal arc welding, shielded metal arc welding, and flux cored welding, the filter lenses should have a minimum protective shade of 7 and maximum shade of 11. Carbon arc welding and gas welding requires a minimum shade of 14 and 4 respectively.
Good safety glasses should have side shields in order for them to offer full protection to both the front and sides of the eyes. Side shields traps particles sent flying and make it past the protective front of the helmet.
All in all, never weld with the safety glasses alone. You will need to wear a welding helmet, some safety goggles and probably a hand-held face shield. Your pair of safety glasses should be comfortable and it should comply with national safety standards.
The standards outline the tests the glasses must pass before they are certified for use. Such tests include protection against dust, splash, and optical radiation as well as impact and radiation.
2. Safety Goggles. Safety welding goggles are more advanced than safety glasses and they are used for high impact protection. They offer greater particle and welding light protection. Just like safety glasses, goggles have shade number that is marked on the lens indicating how light/dark the lens is.
Safety goggles features either direct or indirect venting. Goggles with direct venting come with a mesh of small holes on the sides to help reduce fogging as much as possible. However, they should not be used with fine dust or liquid hazards.
Indirect venting, on the other hand, is for high dust and splash protection where prevention of fogging is not much of a priority. You can also opt for specially designed chemical goggles if fumes, mists dust or gasses are present. These goggles also feature vents that help to prevent liquids from reaching your eyes.
3. Welding Helmets. A welding helmet is an important piece of personal protective equipment that any welder must have. It protects the skin and eyes from severe sparks and at the same time, it provides adequate protection from vision-damaging infrared and UV rays emitted by the arc.
Welding helmets are designed to accommodate specific needs of any task and they must meet the safety standards as stipulated by the regulatory bodies. The standards address various concerns such as impact resistance and light leakage. As general rule of thumb, welding helmets should be worn over welding goggles or safety glasses and they should be fitted with a filter shade that is suitable for the type of welding at hand.
Welding helmets comes in two forms:
- Passive/Fixed Shade Helmets. These helmets features a fixed shade which remains darkened at all times. However, they are graded to suit different welding needs and as such you should choose a shade that will offer the required level of eye protection. The downside of these helmets is that one is required to lift the helmet every now and then in order to set a position or examine the weld joint. The welder is then expected to flip the helmet down when he/she wants to strike an arc. This repetitive process reduces the operator's productivity and at the same time, it may be difficult to operate in tight spaces.
- Auto-Darkening Helmets. Unlike fixed shade helmets, auto-darkening helmets will automatically change the shade from what is considered to be inactive state to active state when a welding arc is initiated. These helmets will darken to a pre-selected shade within milliseconds, protecting you from harmful emissions at all times. In addition, the welder can work uninterrupted as he/she can see clearly, even when the helmet is in down position. This will increase welders' productivity,y as these helmets eliminate unnecessary stops for set-up position. These helmets are recommended to both experienced and beginner welders because they also minimize neck fatigue that is experienced in traditional, fixed-shade helmets.
4. Faceshields. Faceshields are used to offer even higher impact protection and they should always be used over safety goggles and glasses. They are used to protect a welder's face in addition to the eyes. Just like welding helmets, faceshields are lifted frequently which leaves the eyes unprotected without the safety goggles/glasses.
An approved faceshield will have filters for protection against optical radiation. The filters will also offer additional protection from sparks and debris. The optical filters must be suitable for the type of welding being done. This means that a filter used for gas welding should not be used for arc welding, and so on. For better vision, choose a faceshield with self-dimming capabilities.
Tips for Using Eye Protective Equipment
- It is important that you inspect eye protection before use. Safety glasses and goggles with scratched or cracked lenses should be replaced, as they may shatter easily. Welders also should also straps that are twisted or knotted.
- One form of eye protection is not adequate; welding helmets or faceshields should be worn with safety goggles/glasses with side shields. For instance, a flash burn may result is an operator fails to use safety goggles with side shields.
- When it comes to filter shade, a welder should begin with a darker shade to get a perfect view of the welding zone. The welder can then gradually adjust to a lighter shade that will give sufficient view without going below the minimum shade required for the welding type.
- Safety glasses and goggles must fit well for them to be effective. As for the glasses, they should fit conveniently on the bridge of the nose with the lens directly in front of the eyes. The goggles' straps, on the other hand, should fit well on the back the head.
- Operators with prescription glasses should wear the safety goggles or safety glasses over their prescription eyewear. When it comes to contact lenses, it is important to highlight that they do not protect you from UV radiation or flying objects. They are discouraged in areas with certain chemicals or in dusty areas.
- Other occupants in the welding area also should be concerned about PPE. They should be protected from hazardous sparks, light, and spatter. As such, employers must ensure that flameproof screens are in place and that everyone uses eye and face protection.
- Eye protective equipment should be cleaned of any dirt and dust after every use. You can use some special cleaning solutions on the lenses to avoid damaging the coatings. The clean eyewear should be kept away from moisture, dust, direct sunlight, and other factors that might interfere with its effectiveness.
Controlling Eye Hazards at the Workplace
In addition to the using the tool above, you can control the potential hazards by following these suggestions:
1. Replace toxic chemicals and high-risk equipment with more safe alternatives.
2. Dampen dusty areas to minimize clogging.
3. Install safety barriers.
4. Isolate high-risk equipment.
5. Signpost work areas that require eye protection.
6. Install exhaust hoods to help in the management of fumes and dust.
7. Conduct regular training sessions and make sure that you have sufficient first aid equipment.
William Phillips has been welding practically for the last decade. He is an expert in all forms of welding, and he loves doing it in the right way. His passion for welding prompted him to start blogging with the objective of sharing his real experiences. He offers practical solutions in well-researched and professionally written articles to ensure that his readers get the best from the content he creates on his website Tools Haunt.
Posted on Jun 03, 2019