Welding is one of the most important industries and is critical to infrastructure. The growth of the welding industry is approximately 6% per year. It’s also one of the most dangerous industries to work in as far as health risks are concerned. Being surrounded by deadly fumes for hours without any source of ventilation is proven to have negative impacts on the body.
The dangers of welding range from glaring lights, fumes, intense heat, and loud noises. The extent of these dangers depends on the type of welding being done and the precautions taken. The most dangerous of them are working in a workplace with no fume extraction system.
Why is it so harmful?
To better understand why welding fumes are so dangerous, one needs to understand that metals are burnt during the welding process. As the metals burn and get welded into place, particles are released into the air, both large and small. In welding, the smaller the particles released into the air, the more dangerous it is to people. The smallest particles are released as fumes; these fumes are a complex mixture of fluorides, metal oxides, and silicates, which are all harmful when inhaled. When inhaling welding fumes, one is inhaling particles of the electrode being used and particles of the material being welded.
After inhaling these toxic gases, there are warning signs that the body starts to display – one of the impending dangers of continuing to inhale toxins. These signs are a reminder to the welder to find a way to remove welding fumes to avoid worsening symptoms. An example of a symptom is metal fume fever, which occurs after inhaling zinc fumes from welding galvanized metal. Some of the symptoms associated with fume metal fever are stomach pains, night sweats, and chills. Others also tend to experience headaches or shortness of breath.
With this knowledge of how harmful welding fumes can be to welders, it is important to look with so much focus on the methods of controlling these metal fumes. Fumes cannot be fully stopped from welding, as this will mean stopping the entire welding industry. However, the welding fumes can be controlled in a manner that will ensure that the welder is safe. The number one method of controlling toxic welding fumes is by using welding fume extractors to remove the fume at the source.
The solution to toxic fumes
The fume extractions system’s main purpose is to offer the welders added advantages to their work and reduce the operating costs for welding companies. Companies with installed fume extraction systems are in a great position to negotiate health insurance and liability rates with insurance companies. Fume extraction systems are not only beneficial to the welding workers who are now safe from inhaling toxic gases but it also beneficial to the company as the company can follow safety regulations. The system also decreases the maintenance cost of the welding equipment because the fume extraction system helps increase the lifespan of the welding equipment
All welding companies should realize that the risks associated with welding are high. Fume extractors installed in the workplace are an absolute necessity.