Welding produces smoke that contains harmful metal fumes and gas by-products. Although the term “fume” is commonly used as a synonym for a mist or vapor, a fume is actually given off when heating aluminum, chromium, copper, iron, lead, nickel, tin, or other metals. Factors that affect worker exposure to welding fumes include:
Acute exposure to welding fumes and gases can result in eye, nose, and throat irritation, as well as dizziness and nausea. Workers who experience these symptoms should leave the area immediately, seek fresh air, and get medical attention. Prolonged exposure may cause lung damage and various types of cancer. Health effects from certain fumes may include metal fume fever, stomach ulcers, kidney damage, and nervous system damage.
Employers should take steps to reduce employee exposure to welding fumes. Examples include:
If work practices and ventilation do not reduce exposures to safe levels, employers may need to provide respiratory protection.
Employees cannot protect themselves from workplace hazards if they haven’t been trained to recognize those hazards, along with training on procedures to mitigate risk. The Training area of the J. J. Keller® SAFETY MANAGEMENT SUITE can help, with courses on many topics to increase employee awareness and involvement. This tool can help you deliver training with interactive online courses, video training, classroom materials, and many other training assets.