Dangerous levels of fume and smoke concentration are a common fact in the welding industry, and sometimes a normal part of the job. These industrial fumes can prove a deadly hazard to workers forced to endure long periods of exposure. Welding is a huge culprit of deadly smoke and hazardous fumes that can cause long-term illness and discomfort though there are other industries that are exposed to high levels of smoke as well.
Some of the most notorious health effects of deadly smoke and fume exposure are eye, ear and nose irritation, nausea, various forms of cancer, and suffocation. Industrial fumes from some highly toxic metals can cause everything from upset stomach to violent headaches. Companies can protect their workers from smoke dangers and industrial fumes by taking some important precautions. These simple smoke and fume precautions can save the lives, health, and livelihoods of your workers:
Ensure that welders understand the hazards involved in exposure
It is a requirement that all workers are trained and provided relevant information on the hazardous materials they might encounter during work. It is also important to hang signs with any fume or smoke dangers announced and instructions on what to do if exposed.
Avoid welding in confined spaces
The less space there is to weld, the more a worker will be stuck with the fumes they make. Proper fume ventilation should be established through a downdraft system if there is no way to avoid an enclosed space. There should also be adequate breaks to encourage fresh air.
Remove toxic coatings from any welding surfaces
The metals used in welding can produce highly toxic fumes and smoke. Some fumes of metals like Manganese and Iron Oxide can cause damage to the central nervous system and various cancers.
Encourage proper positioning to avoid breathing in toxic fumes. Whenever possible, workers should avoid being in the direct line of any hazardous fumes. When outdoors or in a windy environment, workers should remain upright. The position should adjust accordingly depending on the direction of fumes.
Use alternatives if proper fume ventilation isn’t available
Air ventilation when working with fumes is an absolute requirement. There are plenty of tools that can be used to protect workers properly from dangerous fumes. Downdraft booths are highly effective against fume buildup and can offer a great solution to any air ventilation problem.
Remain OSHA compliant
OSHA has great information and up-to-date guidelines to ensure that your company is ready for possible fume exposure. If you’re having trouble implementing the right changes to improve health conditions in your company, following those OSHA guidelines will automatically get you up to date.
While there are numerous ways to lower dangerous exposure levels through training and information, the only way to assure healthy smoke and fume extraction is by removing it directly at the source. Fumes require adequate air ventilation and proper safety equipment to diminish the threat of dangerous health complications. Be sure to protect your workers and decrease the chance of serious health complications from smoke dangers by promoting worker awareness, providing adequate fume ventilation, and always keeping workspaces clean and build-up free.