One of the most significant health hazards in the welding process is the generation of fumes and gasses. A new welder was assigned to an area where he had never worked before. After welding pipe for several hours, he began to feel ill. As the day progressed, his flu like symptoms worsened and he became lethargic. Metal Fume Fever was the result from welding on galvanized steel.
Respiratory hazards come from the welding rods and also the material being worked on.
- Rod or flux being used. Consult manufacturer or SDS
- Leaded paint on surface
- Stainless Steel--Hexavalent Chromium
- Galvanized surfaces
- In all operations where metal fumes are present, you should work in a well ventilated area. The best way to protect against metal fumes is to use local exhaust ventilation at the source of the smoke. Do not recirculate the air in the shop.
- If good local ventilation is not possible, you should wear an approved respirator, which will fit underneath your welding helmet and protect yourself from fumes. This respirator collects the fume particles and keeps them from entering your lungs. A paper dust mask is not adequate.
- After you have finished welding, wash your hands and face thoroughly with soap and water.
- Do not eat, drink, or smoke in areas contaminated by welding fumes.
- If you think you are experiencing symptoms of metal fume fever, report it to your supervisor. Physicians familiar with this illness say that the best treatment is to drink plenty of water and go to bed and rest.
- The only way to know if you are properly protected is to perform air monitoring.
- NOTE: Did you know that you can "contaminate" others by carrying metal particles on your clothing? Protect both yourself and others.
- Pre-read the Toolbox Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
- Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Toolbox Talk relevant to your job site.
- Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion.
Questions for Discussion
- Have you ever been sick from welding fumes?
- What other areas have atmospheric hazards? i.e. confined spaces