Welders are told many times to protect their eyes and skin from the arc produced by the torch. But, have you wondered what from you are protecting yourself? Is it dangerous, or some mere protocol?
So, does welding produce radiation? In a word, yes! Welding produces dangerous radiation that can cause serious harm to the welder. Your eyes and skin being two of the most sensitive and exposed parts, get affected the most. Therefore, they say you should protect them by wearing proper PPE.
There is plenty of questions that come to mind when we talk about welding. And while as much as we believe you enjoy your job, you should also take proper protection. Today we will be talking about why you should care about exposure to those.
Table of Contents
- 1 Types of Radiation Associated with Welding
- 2 Effects of These Radiations on Welders
- 3 Why Should You Care?
- 4 How to Protect Yourself When Welding
- 5 Conclusion
Types of Radiation Associated with Welding
Welding mostly produces ultraviolet, color spectrum, and infrared. These can seriously damage your eyes and cause problems on your skin. The ultraviolet rays (UVR), especially, are the foremost likely to cause these problems. UV-radiation is split into three ranges. These are UVA (ranging between 315 to 400 nm), UVB (ranging between 280 to 315 nm), and UVC (ranging between 100 to 280 nm). The cornea of the eyes absorbs UVC and most UVB rays.
Considering reflected light also can carry radiation, your eyes can get damaged from the arcs of other welders, too. Mostly, ultraviolet radiation (UVR) gets absorbed within the lens and cornea and results in swollen, painful eyes. Fortunately, this is often rarely permanent. Since the radiation from a welding arc can be intense, you should protect your eyes adequately.
Effects of These Radiations on Welders
The welding arc puts out some dangerous radiation. And now that you know it, you must know what impacts they have on your health. It puts out the same UV radiation that comes from the sun but in different proportions. These can cause several harms and permanent damages to your organs, including eyes and skin.
1. Welding Effects on Your Eyes
Welding radiation has some severe effects on your eyes. We call it an “arc eye.” One of the most common eye damages is Photokeratitis or Welder’s Flash. It happens when UVR gets absorbed in the lens and cornea, leading to swollen and painful eyes. Thankfully, this sort of damage is temporary. But this can be painful. The symptoms may include irritation of the eyes, increased sensitivity, watering eyes, blurred vision, bloodshot eyes, etc.
Such long-term exposure to UV light can even cause cataracts. It can then lead to loss of vision. Although there are treatments, it is still best to avoid them. Prolonged exposure to light from a welding arc and the associated UV radiation can be highly damaging.
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2. Radiation Effect on Your Skin
As much as these radiations are harmful to your eyes, they are the same for your skin too. Prolonged exposure to UV radiation can cause many damages to your skin, such as “sunburn.” It also can increase your Prefer Chance of skin cancer. So, how does this happen? It mostly happens due to the direct UV exposure to a welding arc or reflected radiation coming from a welding torch as it bounces back from a metal surface.
While visible lights and infrared radiation are unlikely to possess that much threat, UV rays can be harmful. Although academic studies have no real evidence to prove the connection between welding and skin cancer, they have confirmed a strong link between welding and increased risk of ocular melanoma.
UVA, B, and C are all present in welding arcs. UVA penetrates the skin but is unlikely to damage DNA. UVB and UVC can be more damaging instead. UVB is the one that is more responsible for skin cancer. It is believed to damage DNA. UVC is also found in daylight. But they usually get absorbed into the atmosphere before arriving at ground level. So most people who do not weld, the risk from exposure to UVC is minimal. But welders are exposed to UVC daily.
Thankfully there are not many skin cancer cases since most welders protect their body and hands well when welding to avoid welding UV burns. Thankfully, it helps them stand and reduce their exposure to UV radiation.
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Why Should You Care?
Now that you know the risks of unprotected welding, you already know why you should care. If you are a responsible welder, it is your job to ensure your team’s safety. While you can overturn some damages caused by these radiations, others you cannot. These damages can prove to be fatal and life-threatening. Plus, you would never want to go blind forever.
How to Protect Yourself When Welding
“Precaution is better than cure.” So, why take risks when you can dodge them? By following some simple preventive methods, you can avoid these risks and keep doing your job uninterruptedly.
1. Always Wear Welding Helmet
The best method to protect your eyes from harmful radiation is by wearing a welding helmet. When you purchase one, make sure that it is ANSI Z87.1 certified. These helmets feature auto-dimming. It automatically darkens the visor as the helmet detects the bright flash of arc welding. So, they are convenient and a must-buy for any welder. It would also be best if you prefer wearing safety glasses with full UV protection for better protection.
2. Wear Proper PPE
Covering your eyes is not everything. You should also protect your exposed body parts, especially your skin. As mentioned earlier, these radiations can also cause cancer. Hence, wear proper PPE. Cover all your body parts that may get exposed to the radiation.
Welding can be a passion for you, but it is not something without any risk. Yet, the risks must not keep you away from your job. A welder’s primary job is to ensure their safety. Knowing the risks would help you see risks from a different point. Thus, you can practice better methods to protect yourself. That said, we hope you have got your answer and ready to spend safe welding time.