Kevin Sayler

K2_AUTHOR_DESC: This column addresses everything about welding safety.

Kevin Sayler, CIH is a welding health and safety consultant who helps businesses increase profitability by reducing costs associated with workplace accidents, injuries and diseases. He specializes in the prevention of harmful exposures to employees. Visit Kevin's website at www.CascadeHealthSafety.com
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Welding Safety: Protect your Eyes!

Written by  February 27, 2012
Welding Helmet Welding Helmet

Eye injuries are one of the most common types of injuries to welders and they are also easy to prevent. Flying debris, intense light, and irritation from chemicals or fumes are all hazards to a welder’s eyes. It is important to remember that these hazards are also present for all who are near the welding operation, not just the welder.

The extremely bright light from arc welding can cause flash burn, similar to sunburn to the eyes. Use of a weld hood with the proper lens shade is essential. For new welders who are not sure which lens shade to use there are good resources available. Take a look at ANSI Z49.1 standard, Safety in Welding, Cutting, and Allied Processes which contains recommendations on which shade to use based on specific characteristics of the welding or cutting process.

If working on a structure made of a highly reflective metal such as aluminum or stainless steel, it is important to consider reflected light. Sometimes light from the arc can reflect off a surface behind the welder and into the hood. Enough light can get in through this route to cause flash burn to the eyes and “sunburn” to the back of the neck. Two easy options to prevent this are to cover up the reflective surface or hang a heat resistant piece of cloth or leather off the back of the weld hood.

When others are in the work area it is important to protect them from accidently being exposed to the light produced by the arc. Solid barriers which block the light or appropriately shaded curtains are options for preventing injury. If using solid barriers, avoid using reflective surfaces which redirect the light.

Flying particles from slagging welds or grinding is also a significant hazard. Safety glasses with side shields which meet the impact resistance specifications of ANSI Z87.1, stamped on the glasses, should be worn at all times. Goggles which also meeting the ANSI standard are another option. These work well for very dusty work environments or working in tight quarters. A hood alone is not sufficient for protecting your eyes from dust and flying debris.

If an eye injury occurs such as flash burn or debris gets in your eye, it should be examined by a healthcare professional and treated as they find appropriate. Delaying treatment can allow for complications to develop. Eye injury prevention is the priority, but always get proper treatment if an incident occurs.

Kevin Sayler, CIH is a health and safety consultant who helps businesses increase profitability by reducing costs associated with workplace accidents, injuries and diseases. He specializes in the prevention of harmful exposures to employees. He can be reach at (360) 420-2985 or www.CascadeHealthSafety.com

Last modified on August 6, 2013