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Welding and Cutting

Welding and Cutting

Hazard Overview

Hazard Overview

What is welding?

Welding is the process of joining metals in which coalescence is produced by heating to suitable temperatures with or without the use of a filler metal. Welding processes can be classed as pressure, nonpressure, or brazing. In nonpressure welding techniques, metal is vaporized and condenses to form a fume.

What is brazing?

Brazing is a technique for joining metals that are heated above 800 deg. F.

What is "hot work?"

"Hot work" is defined as work involving electric or gas welding, cutting, brazing, or similar flame or spark-producing operations.

What are the hazards associated with welding and cutting?

The major health hazards related to welding and cutting are a consequence of the inhalation of metal fumes generated during welding and cutting. The type and severity of the health effects that result from inhalation of metal fumes depends on the specific metals involved, the concentration of the metal fumes in the air, the frequency of exposure, and the length of exposure.

Other health hazards associated with welding and cutting result from exposure to the ultraviolet radiation that is emitted during the welding process. Lack of appropriate skin and eye protection can result in reddening of the skin and photokeratitis (also known as "flash burn" or "welders eye").

Regarding physical hazards, welding, cutting and brazing operations can pose a significant ignition source for flammable vapors. Therefore, hot work must never be conducted in a flammable atmosphere or in close proximity to flammable liquids, or on metal containers that have been used to contain flammable and combustible liquids unless the container has been thoroughly emptied, cleaned, and purged with an inert gas, such as nitrogen, to remove residual flammable vapors.

Solutions

Solutions

What can I do to protect myself?

Ventilation is the most effective means of controlling inhalation exposures to welding fumes. Where possible, local exhaust ventilation should be located at the parts being welded to exhaust metal fumes away from the welder as they are generated.

Eye protection of an appropriate shade should always be worn when welding is conducted. In addition, wear leather or thick fabric gloves when welding or cutting to protect against burns and cover arms and legs for protection against reddening of the skin by emitted ultraviolet radiation.

What resources are available to assist employers?

  • A PPE hazard assessment can assist the employer in identifying the appropriate personal protective equipment required to protect the employee from hazards associated with welding, cutting and brazing.

Other resource information pertaining to personal protective equipment can be found on the A-Z topics page. In addition, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC). The education, training and technical assistance bureau provides free online safety and health training and outreach services (i.e., speaker's bureau requests, safety booths) upon request.

Regulations

Regulations

What standards apply?

OSH has adopted the following standards for welding and cutting in North Carolina:

Additional OSH standards associated with welding and cutting include:

Learn More

Learn More

Where can I learn more?

If you would like to receive interpretive guidance on this or any other OSH standard or topic, you can submit your questions using the Ask OSH web form, by e-mail to ask.osh@labor.nc.gov or by calling 919-707-7876.