Keep Your Welding Team Safe and Healthy With Welding Dedusting Equipment
Welding produces dangerous gases and dust particles that must be filtered continuously to keep your skilled team safe. These dangers pose fire risks, poisoning hazards, and suffocation risks.
When fumes are inhaled, they can irritate the eyes and skin of welders while potentially increasing absentee rates and lowering productivity. Choosing the right welding dedusting equipment will prevent these problems and maintain your team’s safety.
Welding requires the use of shielding gases to protect the arc from contamination by air particles. These are used in either pure form or mixed with other gases to meet specific welding needs.
There are three pure welding gases: argon, carbon dioxide and helium. These can be mixed with oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen to achieve various welding outcomes. For instance, argon mixes are used for MIG and TIG welding on copper, aluminum and some carbon steels. Helium can be added to argon mixes for more fluidity in the weld pool and increased penetration. It can also be used for plasma shielding.
When choosing a welding gas, you need to consider the following factors:
The type of material you are working with. Some weld materials are more sensitive to contaminants than others, and the shielding gas you choose may help prevent oxidation or other damage.
Cleanup. Welding produces spatter that can land on your workpiece or your workspace and may require extra cleanup time. Some shielding gases produce less welding dedusting equipment spatter, which can improve quality and speed up production.
The fumes produced by welding, plasma cutting and other welding activities are a serious health concern. They can cause respiratory problems and eye, nose or throat irritation, especially in high concentrations. They can also increase the likelihood of developing chronic lung conditions, such as emphysema.
The fumes produced during welding and other metalworking processes contain small particulate that can be inhaled. These fine dust particles can penetrate the lungs and cause short and long term health problems, from eye, nose and throat irritation to stomach ulcers and nervous system damage. They may also be absorbed into the bloodstream and cause poisoning or even lead to death in cases of extreme exposure.
Welding fumes can contain a variety of different metal oxide particles, including iron oxide, manganese, nickel and silica. The fumes may also contain gases such as carbon dioxide and argon. If the fumes are insufficiently filtered, they can displace oxygen and lead to suffocation.
A well-designed dedusting system will filter both the dangerous compounds in the fumes and these tiny particulate to protect workers from harm. The filtered air can be exhausted outdoors or, in some cases, recirculated back into the facility for significant energy savings. Welding dedusting systems can include source capture arms, slotted fume hoods and flexible ductwork for mobile use.
Many metalworking applications produce a large volume of fine dust particles. An effective and affordable control strategy is to use a cartridge dust collector system with a variety of filters to target specific contaminants. For example, plastic particles may require a carbon-impregnated filter for electrostatic charge reduction while hygroscopic and sticky particles may need an oleophobic coating to shed them from the filter surface more easily.
In addition to capturing dust and gas particles, welding dedusting systems must also remove potentially combustible particles. Combustible dust is any fine material that will ignite easily once combined with the right air mixture and exposed to an ignition source like a small flame, cigarette, or heat. Often, this type of material is not immediately visible to the human eye because it is so fine, but facilities working with combustible materials like metals or textiles can experience dangerous dust fires that are difficult to control.
The best way to prevent these hazards is to contain the combustible dust within your system with filtering equipment that will capture it at its point of release. This will reduce contaminant buildup on surfaces that could be exposed to an ignition source and prevent costly machine damage due to dust settling and clogging delicate mechanisms. Collectors can be portable, central, or mounted above the work area for maximum source-capture efficiency. Central units save floor space but can present an explosion hazard if not vented properly and must be located outside to avoid this problem. Collectors mounted above the work area, usually above robotic welding machines, are less prone to creating an explosion hazard but can be more expensive to operate since they must be equipped with special explosion safety devices.
Other prevention measures include inspecting your facility regularly to remove ignition sources such as open flames, smoking, and sparks or friction from machinery or wiring, using intrinsically safe tools and machinery, and ensuring all employees have training in how to identify the presence of combustible materials in their workplace and follow proper handling procedures. Developing and following an inspection and maintenance program that includes regular cleaning of equipment and ducting, dust collection, and ventilation systems is another important safety precaution.
Welding fumes contain a wide variety of toxic and dangerous substances. welding dedusting equipment Some of these can cause long term health problems, including cancers and lung diseases. These gases can be captured and controlled by using local exhaust ventilation (LEV) or ambient capture air cleaning systems that keep your welding team safe, healthy and productive.
Many different metals and alloys can be used for welding, each with their own specific risks. Metals that have been galvanized, electroplated or painted can produce additional hazardous fumes. These can include formaldehyde, isocyanates and metal oxides such as zinc oxide (which can cause welder’s lung) .
Other welding processes can also produce dust particles that are small enough to enter the alveolar region of the lungs. These can irritate the eyes and skin, damage equipment and create a fire hazard when they settle on surfaces. Processing fumes can contain a wide range of toxic substances, such as iron oxide, nickel, manganese, copper, lead and chromium.
All of these hazards can be minimised by ensuring that all welding is conducted in a firesafe area, all gas cylinders are removed from confined spaces when not being used and the welding site is cleaned regularly. In addition, a comprehensive risk assessment and control plan must be in place to ensure that all reasonable work health and safety instructions are followed.