June is National Safety Month! Join Online Metals in calling attention to common safety and health risks and help prevent injuries when you’re on the job or working on a personal project.
Whether you are a professional welder, blacksmith, fabricator or other metal worker, metal artist or sculptor, or just a hobbyist, learning to take these simple safety precautions can not only keep you safe when working with metal but keep those around you safe as well.
Prevent Slips, Trips and Falls
There are things you can do to reduce risk of falling, slipping and tripping both at home and at work. Keep your aisles, stairs and walkways clutter-free. Apply nonskid floor coatings and slip-resistant mats where falls are likely. And always wipe up spills and don’t leave drawers and cabinets open.
Know Your Materials and Tools
Metal can cause cuts, slices and splinters. Different metals react differently to heat and other chemicals. It’s important to know the materials and tools you are using and ensure you are trained and understand how to use them safely.
Always Wear the Right Gear
It’s important to wear the correct protective gear for your project. Make sure your clothing, shoes, gloves, eye wear, ear protection, etc. are right for the job. If you are creating sparks wear high-top leather shoes or boots to provide the best foot protection. If you are welding ensure you have a quality helmet, heavy-duty welding gloves and a leather apron.
Fumes, gas and smoke can accumulate when working in a confined space and can pose a serious health hazard. Be sure you know the hazards posed by the materials and processes you are using and the proper precautions to take to ensure enough clean breathing air is available. Take steps to ensure proper ventilation in your space – install exhaust hoods, fans and use respirators or masks if necessary.
Protect Your Eyes
It only takes a moment of expose to a welding arc’s rays for unprotected eyes to experience “arc flash,” a painful condition that may not appear until hours after the exposure. Be sure you know the risks posed by the tools and techniques you are using and ensure you have the proper gear to protect your eyes – safety glasses with side shields, auto-darkening helmets and install screens or barriers where appropriate.
Learn More About Staying Safe When Working With Metal
American Welding Society (AWS) is an excellent learning source for welders and also provides free downloadable safety and health fact sheets that address common safety and health concerns ranging from Fumes and Gasses and Metal Fume Fever to Eye and Face Protection for Welding and Cutting Operations and Selecting Gloves for Welding and Cutting to Ergonomics in the Welding Environment and more specific health and safety information related to welding, different types of welding and workshop environments. AWS also provides industry free bundles of Safety and Health Fact Sheets combined for specific industries and the most current version of An American National Standard: Safety in Welding, Cutting and Allied Processes.
Welding, cutting, and brazing is also addressed in specific standards for the general industry, shipyard employment, marine terminals, and construction industry. The US Department of Labor and Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) provide more resources and information on standards related to welding, cutting and brazing to keep you safe on the job and ensure a safe working environment.
American Welding Society: Safety & Health Fact Sheets
An American National Standard: Safety in Welding, Cutting and Allied Processes
AWS Safety and Health Fact Sheets by Industry: Aerospace, Automotive, Chemical, Construction, Education, Fabricators, Mining, Pipeline, Railroad, Shipbuilding, Utilities
The American Society of Safety Engineers: Standards
US Department of Labor OSHA Standards: Welding, Cutting and Brazing