Welding creates smoke that contains dangerous gas by-products and metal fume. Take the appropriate steps to help protect workers and reduce the risk of injury and illness from harmful welding fume.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), welding fume poses numerous health risks. Short exposure to fume can cause dizziness, and nausea, and irritate the eyes, nose, and throat. Workers with these symptoms should find fresh air and seek medical attention right away. Extended exposure can damage lungs and result in various types of cancer, such as lung, urinary tract, and larynx.
Some gases used in welding or created by welding, including argon, helium, and carbon dioxide, replace the oxygen in the air and could suffocate workers, especially in enclosed work areas. Welding can also form carbon monoxide, which can cause asphyxiation.
Tips OSHA provides to help workers stay safe during welding operations include:
• Educate welders on the hazards of welding and the materials being welded
• Remove toxic coatings, like solvents and paint, from welding surfaces
• Encourage employees to position themselves to avoid inhaling welding fume and gases. Outdoor workers should remain upwind during welding
• Weld in a well-ventilated area and, when possible, use an exhaust system to remove fume from the area. Welding outdoors does not guarantee optimum ventilation. When welding in an area with no ventilation or exhaust system, workers should pay attention to the natural movement of air so they can position their work in a way that will expose their coworkers and themselves to the smallest possible amount of fume
• To remove the maximum amount of fume when using an exhaust system, keep hoods, vacuum nozzles, and extractor guns close to the plume source
• Consider using a welding method or consumable that is less toxic or produces lower fume
• Provide respiratory protection whenever exposure cannot be reduced to a safe level
Welding is a common practice in construction, manufacturing, and many other industries. Reduce health issues and injuries by providing personal protective equipment (PPE) like welding gloves, protective clothing, and welding, heat, and electrical arc head and face protection.
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Reduce damage, loss, and disruption to a business by taking the appropriate steps before an earthquake occurs. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends identifying workplace hazard levels and vulnerabilities. Once this is accomplished, businesses can make plans to address those risks.
Below are tips from FEMA to help workplaces recognize hazards, pinpoint vulnerabilities, and prepare for earthquakes. If renting or leasing a building, consult the owner before addressing risks:
1. Determine your location’s earthquake hazard. While all workplaces should prepare for emergencies, it is important for businesses to know if they are in an area where there is an increased risk of an earthquake. To determine whether a business is located in an earthquake hazard area, consult a United States Geological Survey (USGS) earthquake hazard map. This map categorizes areas according to earthquake probability.
2. Evaluate the risk for key partners. A business might also be affected if its vendors, distribution partners, or customers are located in a hazard area, so it is important to evaluate their risk, too.
3. Ask about building codes. Consult the local agency in charge of construction regulation to find out if your area is subject to any seismic design laws and, if so, when these requirements were created. If your facility was built before that date, it may have some weaknesses that could affect its ability to withstand an earthquake.
4. Identify structural vulnerabilities. The goal of reducing structural risks is to make your building more earthquake-resistant. Examine your building carefully for structural vulnerabilities such as masonry that has not been reinforced or anchored, soft story construction, old concrete, cripple walls that are not bolted to the foundation, or irregularities.
5. Evaluate utility systems. Inspect building utility systems for any equipment that should be bolted to floors, walls, or ceilings. Some examples include pipes, tanks, water heaters, space heaters, compressors, furnaces, air conditioners, heat pumps, ducts, and fire sprinklers.
6. Assess nonstructural architectural features. Locate any elements that could fall or break, such as stairways, windows, parapets, veneer, signs, fences, walls, built-in partitions, hanging lights, and drop ceilings.
7. Check other nonstructural items. Identify any furniture or objects that have not been anchored, like computers, file cabinets, cylinders, art, containers holding hazardous substances, shelving, wall units, desks, chairs, and partitions. During an earthquake, unsecured items could become damaged or cause injuries.
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