Welding plays a crucial role in creating strong and durable metal joints and is a critical process in multiple industries ranging from construction and manufacturing to automotive and aerospace. However, there is a significant health risk that is posed to the operators because of the toxic fumes generated during the welding process. In this post, we explore the dangers of welding and potential solutions to avert these dangers and create a cleaner and safer working environment for welding operators.
The Hidden Dangers of Welding Fumes:
Welding involves joining of metal joints using high levels of heat and the process itself can generate a significant volume of harmful and potentially toxic fumes and gases. Some of the most common types of welding fumes include:
- Metal Fumes: Tiny particles of metal become airborne during the welding process. These particles may include hazardous elements like Chromium, Lead, Cadmium and Manganese.
- Gases: Various gases, such as Nitrogen Oxides, Carbon Monoxide and Ozone can form during the welding process. Prolonged exposure to these gases can have serious side effects in the long term.
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): Organic compounds like benzene and formaldehyde that are released during welding are known carcinogens.
- Particulate Matter: Other than metals, there may also be other microscopic particulate matter in the fumes generated from welding. These particles can be inhaled and can cause long term respiratory issues and lung disorders.
The Effects on the Health of Welding Operators:
The potential health risks to welding operators who are exposes to fumes over extended periods are multiple and can be quite severe. Some of the more commonly observed issues include:
- Respiratory Problems: In the short term, problems like cough and irritation of the throat is quite common when exposed to welding fumes. However, prolonged exposure can lead to severe chronic conditions including bronchitis, asthma and even lung cancer.
- Neurological Effects: Long term exposure to Manganese in the welding fumes can lead to a condition known as “Welder’s Disease” or Manganism, a condition resembling Parkinson’s Disease, with symptoms like tremors and difficulty with movements for those affected.
- Metal Poisoning: As explained earlier, welding fumes can contain a multitude of heavy metals like Chromium and Lead. These can accumulate in the body over time and lead metal poisoning and severe health complications.
- Eye and Skin Irritation: A commonly observed effect of welding fumes is irritation of the skin and eyes which are usually short term issues but can potentially cause problems in the long terms as well.
- Reproductive and Developmental Disorders: Some studies suggest that fertility issues and developmental disorders in unborn children may be linked to prolonged exposure to welding fumes.
How to Protect the Workers in the Shopfloor?
Given the serious health hazards that are posed by welding fumes along with the obvious environmental effects, creating a clean and safe working environment for welding operators becomes a crucial task. One of the most effective methods of achieving this goal is to implement a fume extraction system for welding fumes. Here are some of the benefits of using a fume extractor.
- Worker Safety: The most immediate and obvious result would be providing a clean and safe workspace for the welding operators.
- Regulatory Compliance: Many countries have introduced strict regulations regarding workplace safety and air quality. Installing a welding fume extractor would be the quickest way to comply with these regulations.
- Improved Productivity: Clean air leads to a healthier workforce, which would thereby create a potential for improved productivity and operational efficiency.
- Cost Savings: This is more of an indirect effect where the cost of healthcare expenses and potential legal liabilities can be minimized.
- Environmental Responsibility: While preventing welders from being exposed to welding fumes, a fume extractor would also ensure cleaner air within the shopfloor, to a certain degree.
How can We Help?
Here at Powertech Pollution Controls, we have over 25 years of expertise in providing solutions for issues related to air pollution control. The FumeKiller® is an electrostatic filtration system and as the name suggests, its primary function is as a fume extractor. It finds use in processes like welding, soldering, brazing and even as an oil mist collector for CNC machining operations.
As a welding fume extractor, the FumeKiller® unit can be placed in a fixed location with a suction hood placed between 6 – 8 inches from the fume generation point for effective and efficient extraction of fumes. Alternatively, in situations where the welding location may change, the unit may also be manufactured in a vertical orientation with wheel mounting and equipped with our Flexible Extractor Arm, to be used as a portable fume extractor. It is a matter of great pride for Powertech that over the years, we have been able successfully implement the FumeKiller® unit as a welding fume extractor over a wide range of applications for a multitude of clients. In spite of our vast experience, we continue to approach each new project as a unique requirement and design each solution accordingly.
It is important to recognize that the risks posed by the toxic fumes produced during welding processes are numerous and potentially severe. If welding operators are not sufficiently protected from these threats, they run the risk of serious health problems. Fume extraction systems are essential for protecting worker health and ensuring regulatory compliance, and not merely as a suggested safety measure. By investing in fume extraction systems like our FumeKiller® unit, businesses can prioritize employee health and safety while simultaneously fostering environmental. In the end, safeguarding employees from the unseen dangers of welding fumes is not only a moral obligation, but a wise business move as well. If you have a requirement for a fume extraction system, Enquire Now and our team will get in touch with you to work out the best possible solution.