Hazards of any kind pose a serious risk to both employees and employers occupational health. In recent years, thousands of welders have filed lawsuits against employers, welding rod manufacturers, distributors and suppliers, alleging that the manganese present in welding fumes causes a long list of illnesses, including Parkinson's disease. These cases have garnished significant media attention and have come with costly consequences.
Welding fumes are a complex mixture of metallic oxides, silicates and fluorides. Fumes are formed when a metal is heated above its boiling point and vapors then condense into very fine particles, which can be inhaled by those in close proximity. When inhaled, welding fumes can enter the lungs, bloodstream, brain cells, spinal cord and other vital organs; this can cause both short- and long-term health effects.
According to National Safety Council, exposure to these fumes can cause:
- dry throat and cough
- lower back pain
- mental confusion
- metal fume fever
- spastic gait
- tightness in the chest
Today, we are able to combat and manage these risks with industry-leading technologies, implemented by experts. Ventilation systems, respirators, training, industrial hygiene monitoring and alternative welding methods can help to improve fume conditions in work areas.
It is vital to have adequate ventilation in a workplace to prevent the displacement or enrichment of oxygen and to prevent the accumulation of flammable atmospheres. Solutions are available for both large and small work areas; from addressing a single workstation to entire warehouses, there is a proper way to keep the air clean and free of these harmful toxins.
Portable Collection Machines
Portable solutions work well for smaller areas and smaller jobs. When the application demands the flexibility of portable dust and fume collectors, this type of equipment is ideal. Portable collection machines move and set up easily. When applied in the correct environments, these solutions offer powerful fume and dust collection to ensure health, safety and optimum efficiency.
Clean Air Booths
Clean Air Booths are self-contained, ductless systems that provides maximum manufacturing flexibility, while protecting workers from the airborne hazards associated with metal cutting, welding, grinding, sanding, finishing and other operations that produce harmful airborne particulates.
Employers may choose to supplement ventilation systems in welding work areas with respiratory protection. Although there is a wide variety of types of respirators, this is generally a supplemental solution that should be used in conjunction with other solutions and should be evaluated regularly.
Downdraft tables pull the contaminants down into the table and away from the employee’s breathing zone. Special deflectors create an even airflow across the entire downdraft table surface in order to ensure there are no “dead air zones.” Not only is this solution effective, it’s also practical; the work area is 100% usable.
Questions about managing risk?
Allow Bedson REPS to assess your facility and its risk(s) in order to identify any hazards in your business. Then, we will be able to provide you with the steps to take to control those risks and keep your team safe.Download our Industrial Ventilation Guide for free; and let's get started today.