With every method of welding, safety is of paramount consideration, but each type has precautions that apply to that type of equipment in particular. In all forms of electric welding, including arc welding, high-amperage electrical current is the primary hazard.

All of your cables, plugs and leads should be inspected regularly for any signs of defects. Even dirt or paint overspray on connections can cause arcing and poor welds. Water, of course, is a good conductor of electricity, and therefore should be avoided in the work area.

Your clothing, equipment and especially the floor must be kept dry to avoid the possibility of electrical shock. Rubber-soled shoes are recommended, but athletic shoes (non-leather) are not. Most experts will tell you not to wear metal jewelry such as watchbands, rings, bracelets, necklaces or belt buckles when welding.

If electric welder power comes into contact with metal articles you are wearing, they can become instantly hot to the point of melting, or can cause electric shock. Of the electric welding methods, arc welding requires the most protection of your face and body during welding.

The intensity of the arc produces strong UV and infrared radiation. Any skin exposed during the welding process can become burned, in severity ranging from mild sunburn to serious burns, with the symptoms not appearing until eight hours after the exposure.

Leave the top button unbuttoned on your shift and you'll have a nasty V-shaped burn on your neck after only a short while arc-welding. Likewise, wear fire-resistant, long-sleeved shirts, and keep your sleeves rolled down at all times. Keep these shirts just for welding, and tear off the pockets if they have any, or keep them empty and buttoned.

An experienced weldor friend of ours was recently burned painfully when welding overhead with just a shop shirt on — a hot bead of spatter went right into his shirt pocket and burned into his chest. Without the pockets, there's a chance the bead will roll off onto the floor rather than stay in one spot on your shirt. For this same reason, your pants should be kept uncuffed, and never tucked into your boots.

If you are going to be doing arc-welding often, we'd recommend you invest in some leather safety clothing, like jackets, vests or pull-on sleeves that go over your regular shirt. Arc-welding is prone to more spattering than other types of welding, and these leather weldor's clothes are highly resistant to arc spatter.

Probably your most sensitive and fragile body parts exposed to welding dangers are your eyes. Even the tiniest bit of spatter in an unprotected eye can have truly long-lasting negative effects. Always wear a full coverage safety helmet when welding, preferably with a leather flap at the bottom- front that protects your neck area.

Especially when welding overhead, like underneath a vehicle, wear a cloth cap backwards ( bill to back) to cover your hair and the back of your neck. Your helmet should be equipped with the proper safety lens for the type of welding you are doing, or your eyes could receive overexposure of UV and infrared rays in a very short time.

Never observe anyone else doing arc-welding unless you are wearing proper eye protection, and make sure that when you are welding that there is no one observing you who could be hurt by watching, particularly children. Watching too much arc will not show immediate effects, but later the affected eyes will be sore, and with a sensation almost like having lots of sand in your eyes.

If you do not yet have your own welder, but want to watch someone else work, get your own helmet to observe through. If you do have a welder, you may want to keep a spare helmet around in case someone wants to observe your welding prowess.

Your eyes can be permanently damaged by overexposure to arc rays, but they must also be protected when working around most shop equipment, such as grinders, mills, drills and sanders, all equipment that may be involved in your welding project. Keep several pair of good safety glasses around your shop, the kind that have protection all the way around the sides.

After arc-welding, you will also want to wear these safety glasses when chipping slag from your welds. The little fragments that break off are like glass. Always keep a very complete first-aid kit accessible in your work area in case of accidents.

A particular hazard with arc welding is the presence of fumes. When the electrode is consumed, the flux is vaporized, creating the shielding gasses that protect the weld from contamination during formation. Depending on the metal being welded, other gasses may be released as the metal is melted.

Most welding gasses are colorless, odorless, tasteless and inert, but this is not to imply that they are harmless. Any of the common welding gasses can displace oxygen, an  when you are breathing in air that contains less than 18% oxygen, you may experience dizziness, or even lose consciousness.

For this reason, arc welding, or any welding process, should be performed only where there is adequate ventilation. In the case of arc welding, there is less chance of the shielding gasses being blown away and causing a bad weld, so if you find yourself welding in one spot too long, or in a confined area, you can use a household fan somewhere in your work area to maintain air circulation.

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