Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety
IN THIS ISSUE: Welding Screens
One of the hazards of welding is flash burn. The eyes, particularly the cornea, (the clear tissue in front of the eye,) can be affected by exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the welding arc. Although the employee performing the welding, has the greatest exposure, welders working in the area, other workers nearby, and visitors to the area may also suffer flash burn.
Symptoms of flash burn include:
- pain that may be mild to very severe, usually starting a few hours after the incident
- bloodshot eyes
- light sensitivity
- watery eyes
- blurred vision
- the feeling of having something in your eye.
One way to protect employees from exposure to ultraviolet radiation, is to enclose the welding with permanent or portable enclosures. Under 1910.252(b)(2)(iii), OSHA requires, “Protection from arc welding rays: Where the work permits, the welder should be enclosed in an individual booth painted with a finish of low reflectivity such as zinc oxide (an important factor for absorbing ultraviolet radiations) and lamp black, or shall be enclosed with noncombustible screens similarly painted. Booths and screens shall permit circulation of air at floor level. Workers or other persons adjacent to the welding areas shall be protected from the rays by noncombustible or flameproof screens or shields or shall be required to wear appropriate goggles.”
Where welding is performed at a fixed welding station, a permanent enclosure is best. If the welding location must be expanded and contracted depending upon the size of the work, the use of portable welding screens are effective and readily available from welding supply, safety supply, and other retail outlets. For welding jobs that are mobile or where welding is done in elevated or confined locations, light weight collapsible accordion screens are also commercially available.
Since flash burn is not always considered a serious injury, many locations where welding is performed do not adequately protect their welders or other persons who work or pass through the area. However, an individual who experiences flash burn will tell you that it is very painful and frightening experience. As with any hazard, employers should try to minimize and control exposure. Protect against flash burn!
Have a safe and happy holiday and new year!
OccuSafe Industrial Hygiene & Safety, Inc. provides skills and expertise to recognize, evaluate and control hazards and injuries in the areas of industrial hygiene, occupational safety and health. OccuSafe services companies of all sizes in a range of industries.
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