Knowing the Health Risks of Welding

Published on December 21st, 2017 by Theodore Rigas

Mohawk College welding students learning how to work safely with a downdraft table for proper air filtration.
Knowing the Health Risks of Welding

Safety in the Workplace

The health and safety of today’s workforce is a critical issue in the modern workplace. New data and evolving technologies are making it easier than ever to help protect one’s well-being both now and in the future. Unfortunately, as creatures of habit, changing a lifetime of work habits is often easier said than done. Therefore, a willingness to embrace improved technology and work habits is critical for the sake of your health and safety.

Teaching Proper Habits

Teaching proper work habits and safety techniques at the student level is an important first step in ensuring future generations will work safely and with minimal risk to their health.

A welding student at Mohawk College using a Diversitech Downdraft Table At Mohawk College, founded in 1966 and located in Hamilton, Ontario, future welders are learning not only the finer points of their chosen trade, but the importance of safety and proper work habits.

As part of the certified welding programs offered at Mohawk College, students are learning to ply their trade with an emphasis on quality and safety, which includes using proper air filtration equipment such as Diversitech’s Downdraft Tables. These customized workstations feature built-in ventilation to capture and filter dangerous fumes, gases and smoke away from an operator’s breathing zone. Additionally, these downdraft tables also help to prevent contamination of the ambient work environment.

The reality is that welding gases, fumes and smoke can cause a multitude of long term health problems such as larynx, lung and urinary tract cancer1. The good news is, using proper air filtration equipment that removes these dangerous gases, fumes and smoke at the source can eliminate these health risks and potentially save lives.

If you’re considering a career in welding, make sure that a strong emphasis on health and safety is part of the curriculum when researching schools in your area that you may want to attend.

Other Considerations

Depending on the type of materials you’re welding, additional safety precautions and equipment may be required to fully ensure safety. For example, if you are welding stainless or galvanized steel, you risk exposure to Hexavalant Chromium – a highly toxic and carcinogenic compound that requires additional precautions.

Among the health risks associated with Hexavalent Chromium2: When it comes to welding, proper equipment and training are of the utmost importance

  • lung cancer in workers who breathe airborne hexavalent chromium;
  • irritation or damage to the nose, throat, and lung (respiratory tract) if hexavalent chromium is breathed at high levels;
  • irritation or damage to the eyes and skin if hexavalent chromium contacts these organs in high concentrations.

Recommended equipment to help eliminate the health risks associated with Hexavalant Chromium:

Conclusion

As technologies and best practices continue to evolve with an eye towards improved health and safety, staying up to date with proper weld fume control practices is of the utmost importance. Education is key.

Refer to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) website for U.S. federal standards and rules related to welding, cutting and brazing. Should you like to learn more about the latest technologies and find out which solutions make the most sense for your specific circumstances, you can contact our team of experts to work with you to find a right-sized solution.

Resources

1 Source: OSHA Fact Sheet – Controlling Hazardous Fume and Gases during Welding
2 Source: OSHA Fact Sheet – Health Effects of Hexavalent Chromium

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They trust us

« As a repeat customer, and owner of both wet and dry downdraft tables, we cannot say enough about the products, and the people at Diversitech…….both are a pleasure to work with! »

  • Combustible dust from deburring safely contained with wet downdraft tables
  • Solved excess dust from grinding and finishing steel parts
  • Reduced cycle time by allowing operators to deburr near the machining center

« The tables are now fully functioning! The students were on them yesterday, and the instructors were so impressed. One instructor even said that he’s “old school” and wasn’t sure about the downdrafts, but he was very impressed. »

  • Custom powder coated tables to match "Baton Rouge Red"
  • Delivered tables "on-time" to five separate campus locations
  • Nanofiber filter technolgy ensure students have a clean and safe learning environment

« We love the downdraft table and are using it full time. We will probably be looking for another one in 6 months to a year as well. Thanks for a nice product. »

  • Mini DD eliminates deburring dust at source
  • Supplied cushion grid matting to protect parts from damage
  • Downdraft table filters airborne dust to protect workers and machinery

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