Health and safety hazards associated with welding

Welders health and safety hazards

For a welder, professionalism is not just about being able to weld efficiently. It is also about knowing the risks of the job and knowing how to work safely and with good equipment. Various methods are used for welding. No matter which method is used there are risks relating to fire, fumes and radiation. Hazardous substances in welding fumes, for example, can be reduced by adjusting the welding parameters and selecting a welding method.

There is however no welding method that is completely danger-free and protective measures must always be implemented regardless of method. Here is an overview of the risks that welders are exposed to:

  • Inhaling hazardous fumes and particles
  • Working with an awkward posture, and lifting heavy items
  • Exposure to vibrations, such as from vibrating tools for grinding or slagging
  • Looking at the welding arc and being affected by the glare, other eye damage or skin lesions
  • Getting splashes or sparks in the ears, eyes or skin
  • Exposure to noise
  • Coming into contact with electrically conductive equipment and receiving an electrical shock
  • Suffering an accident, suffocation, poisoning, fire or explosion
  • Exposure to electromagnetic fields from power cables and welding equipment 

Health risks will vary somewhat depending on the  welding method used and the items being welded. The longer you are exposed to welding fumes  and the higher the levels, the greater is the risk that  you will get sick. 

Welding fumes

Inhalation of welding fumes is one of the most serious risks facing welders. Welding fumes contain substances that in the long term can cause diseases. Many of the symptoms and diseases that welding fumes may cause, only manifest themselves when welders are exposed to them over a long period. It is therefore important to protect yourself against welding fumes even when you do not immediately feel affected by them.

What are the health risks?

There are health risks associated with different welding processes and coated materials. Serious diseases linked to exposure to various types of welding fumes including the following:

  • Lung cancer
  • Asthma
  • Ulcerations in the nostrils
  • Ulcerations on the skin (called ”chrome holes”)
  • Allergies and allergic contact dermatitis
  • Problems with fertility and reproduction

Read more about health risks related to welding in our brochures "Welders are exposed to hazardous fumes and particles" >> and "How to protect against hazardous welding fumes" >>