Safety is of paramount importance when it comes to welding equipment. This is why proper gear goes well beyond the welder itself and also encompasses proper clothing and other items. The following list can help you make sure that you have the right equipment on hand to ensure maximum safety.
The welding helmet protects from more than sparks and hot metal slag. The intense light can cause temporary or permanent blindness if the eyes aren't properly shielded. Chemical burns are another risk. A full helmet is safer than just a basic eye shield, since the helmet protects your entire face and there are no concerns about slippage.
An automatic darkening helmet provides optimum comfort. Just make sure it has variable shade settings so that you can adjust the darkening level to match the type of weld and the material you are welding.
Fumes can be a major health danger when you are welding, which is why respirators are another needed piece of equipment. These are designed to be worn underneath the helmet to keep out metal oxides, silicates, and chemical off-gassing caused by paints, coatings and solvents.
At a bare minimum, a standard N95 mask should be worn at all times. An actual particulate respirator is a much safer choice, but you will need to replace the filters periodically. You can even purchase combination welding helmets that feature built-in respirators.
Welder's aprons and clothing
Protective aprons are fire and spark proof, which will protect you from major burns along your torso. Aprons aren't the only protective clothing that should be worn, though.
Welding gloves are equally important, as are footwear. Heavy leather boots are the standard, since these are resistant to fires and burns. Flame-resistant long sleeve shirts and plants are also recommended. All pockets should also zip closed, be removed, or be taped shut so that embers or slag cannot fall inside of them and cause burns.
Welding can be loud, but that isn't the reason for ear protection. A greater concern is that hot sparks or slag could fall into the ear canal. This can result in major burns, or even hearing loss, depending on the extent of the burns. If you only wear a welding mask, your ears are fully exposed and you should wear muff-style ear protection. For those that prefer helmets, simple fire-resistant ear plugs are sufficient protection.
For more information, contact Wayne Oxygen & Welding Supply Co Inc or a similar company.