ANSI Z308.1-2015 Standard Minimum Requirements  Workplace First Aid Kits and Supplies - Buy new ANSI Kits
ANSI Z308.1-2015 Standard Minimum Requirements Workplace First Aid Kits and Supplies - Buy new ANSI Kits

Arc Welding Safety

See our Welding Safety Training Materials See our Welding Safety Training Materials

Welding, cutting and brazing operations present a series of hazardous situations with potential exposure to burns, eye damage, electrical shock, crushed toes and fingers, and the inhalation of vapors and fumes.

Many accidents can result from Arc Welding Operations

Many welding, cutting and brazing accidents result from:

  • Inadequately trained personnel.
  • Poor housekeeping practices.
  • Poor shop layout.
  • Inadequate lighting and ventilation.
  • Improper storage and movement of compressed gas cylinders.
  • Exposure of oxygen cylinders and fittings to oil or grease creating a fire or explosive hazard.

Many welding, cutting and brazing accidents result from (cont.)

  • Pointing welding or cutting torches at a concrete surface causing spattering and flying fragments of concrete.
  • Electric shock when motors, generators and other electric welding equipment are not grounded.
  • Inhalation of toxic fumes or vapors from welding metals or alloys.

Fires, explosions, and injuries can occur resulting from:

  • The proximity of combustible solids, liquids, or dusts.
  • The presence or development of possible explosive mixtures of flammable gases and air.
  • The presence or nature of an oxygen-enriched atmosphere in locations where hot work is performed.

Cutters and welders, and other exposed personnel, are also susceptible to eye injury from infrared light and ultraviolet radiation.

Personal Protective Equipment to use during A.W.

It is essential that the operator and helpers are properly clothed and protected because of the heat, ultra-violet rays, and sparks, produced by the arc welder.

For body protection:

  • A pair of fire retardant long sleeved coveralls without cuffs is a good choice.

-Avoid clothing with tears, snags, rips, or worn spots  (these areas are easily ignited by sparks).

  • Sleeves and collars should be kept buttoned.
  • The hands should be protected with leather gauntlet gloves.
  • High top leather shoes, preferably safety steel toed shoes/boots.

-If low shoes are worn the ankles should be protected by fire resistant leggings.

  • Helmets shall be used during all arc welding or arc cutting operations. Goggles should also be worn during arc welding or cutting operations to provide protection from injurious rays from adjacent work, and from flying objects. The goggles may have either clear or colored glass, depending upon the amount of exposure to adjacent welding operations. Helpers or attendants shall be provided with proper eye protection. Helmets shall be arranged to protect the face, neck, and ears from direct radiant energy from the arc.. The filter plate should be at least shade #10 for general welding up to 200 amps. However, certain operations such as carbon-arc welding and higher current welding operations require darker shades. Never use a helmet if the filter plate or cover lens is cracked or broken. Never use a helmet if the filter plate or cover lens is cracked or broken.  Most welding helmets nowadays are speed helmets and use a Teflon coated plate; however these scratch and allow welding rays to penetrate.
  • Transparent goggles for eye protection if the person wears prescription glasses or safety glasses if not. Prescription glasses need side shields

Contact Lenses shall not be worn.

  • A flame-proof skull cap to protect the hair and head. The usage of hairspray should be kept to a minimum do to flammability factors.
  • Hearing protection in noisy situations is recommended.

Plastic disposable cigarette lighters are very dangerous around heat and flame. It is very important that they are not carried in the pockets while welding. Always provide protection to bystanders or other workers by welding inside a properly screened area, if possible. If unable to work inside a screened area then protection to others should be provided by a portable screen or shield, or by their wearing anti-flash goggles.

Ventilation Requirements

The welder should be located in an area with adequate ventilation. In general, when welding is being done on metals not considered hazardous, a ventilation system that will move a minimum of 2000 cubic feet per minute (CFM) of air per welder is satisfactory. However, many materials are considered very hazardous and should be welded only in adequately ventilated areas to prevent the accumulation of toxic materials or to eliminate possible oxygen deficiency not only to the operator but to others in the immediate vicinity.

Such ventilation should be supplied by an exhaust system located as close to the work as possible. When welding or cutting metals with hazardous coatings such as galvanized metal the operator should use a supplied-air type respirator or a respirator specially designed to filter the specific metal fume. Materials included in the very hazardous category are welding rod fluxes, coverings, or other materials containing fluorine compounds, zinc, lead, beryllium, cadmium, and mercury. Some cleaning and degreasing compounds as well as the metals they were cleaned with are also hazardous. Always follow the manufacturers precautions before welding or cutting in the presence of these materials.


Welder's First Aid Kit - ndustrial strength workers deserve industrial strength care. Our 114-piece, 16-unit welder's first aid kit focuses on a wide range of injuries common to welders such as minor cuts, sprains, welder's arc and other common eye irritations. Products are contained in a sturdy plastic case with gasket. Welder's First Aid Kit - ndustrial strength workers deserve industrial strength care. Our 114-piece, 16-unit welder's first aid kit focuses on a wide range of injuries common to welders such as minor cuts, sprains, welder's arc and other common eye irritations. Products are contained in a sturdy plastic case with gasket.

Fire Prevention Precautions

The arc welder is capable of producing temperatures in excess of 10,000 degrees F., therefore it is important that the workplace be made fire safe. This can be accomplished by using metal sheets or fire resistant curtains as fire barriers. The floor should be concrete or another fire resistant material. Cracks in the floor should be filled to prevent sparks and hot metal from entering. When work cannot be moved to a fire safe area then the area should be made safe by removing or protecting combustibles from ignition sources. In certain welding situations it may be necessary to ask someone to watch for fires that could go undetected until the welder has finished the job.

  1. The welding operation environment shall be free of flammable liquids and vapors. Combustible materials within a radius of 35 feet of the operation will be protected from activity residue (flame, heat, sparks, slag, etc.).
  2. Fire watcher procedures shall be implemented whenever welding activities are conducted within 35 feet of combustible materials, regardless of protection provided. A qualified individual proficient in the operation of available fire extinguishing equipment and knowledgeable of fire reporting procedures shall observe welding or cutting activities. His or her duty is to detect and prevent the spread of fire produced by welding or cutting activities.
  3. Whenever there are cracks or other floor openings within 35 feet of the welding or cutting that cannot be closed or covered, precautions shall be taken to remove or otherwise protect combustible materials on the floor below that may be exposed to sparks. The same precautions shall be observed with regard to cracks or openings in walls, open doorways, and open or broken windows.
  4. Fire extinguishing equipment shall be maintained, ready for use, while welding or cutting operations are being performed. Equipment may consist of pails of water, buckets of sand, hose, or portable extinguishers depending upon the nature and quantity of the combustible material exposed.

Safe Operation of an Arc Welder

It is important that anyone operating an arc welder be instructed on its safe use by a qualified teacher or welder. Because of their potentially explosive nature, no welding, cutting, or hot work shall be attempted on used drums, barrels, tanks, or other containers under any circumstances.

Before starting operations, all connections to the arc welding machine shall be checked. The work lead shall be firmly attached to the work; contact surfaces of the magnetic work clamps shall be free of metal splatter particles. Coiled welding cable shall be spread out before use to avoid serious overheating and damage to insulation. Work and electrode lead cables shall be inspected for damage and wear before use. Cables with damaged insulation or exposed conductors shall be replaced. Electrode cables shall be joined and insulated in accordance with approved methods.

If possible, work to be welded should be placed on a firebrick surface at a comfortable height. Welding should never be done directly on a concrete floor. Heat from the arc can cause steam to build-up in the floor, which could cause an explosion.

The welder cables shall be positioned so that sparks and molten metal will not fall on them. They should also be kept free of grease and oil and located where they will not be driven over.

Electric welders can kill by electric shock. If the welding operation must be done on steel or other conductive material an insulating mat must be used under the operator. If the welding area is wet or damp or the operator is actively perspiring, he shall wear rubber gloves beneath the welding gloves.

It is easier and safer to establish an arc on a clean surface than a dirty or rusty one. Therefore, metal shall always be thoroughly cleaned by wire brushing or other method prior to welding. When chipping slag or wire brushing the finished bead, the operator shall always protect his eyes and body from flying slag and chips.

Unused electrodes and electrode stubs shall not be left on the floor (they create a slipping hazard). Welders shall not place welding cables and other equipment where it will obstruct passageways, ladders, and stairways.

When quenching hot metal in water, it shall be done carefully to prevent painful burns from the escaping steam. Any metal left to cool shall be carefully marked "HOT" with a soapstone.

Hot metal shall be handled with metal tongs or pliers.

When welding is finished for the day or suspended for any length of time, electrodes shall be removed from the holder. The holder shall be placed where no accidental contact could occur, and the welder should be disconnected from its power source.

Arc Welding Safety Checklist
  • Are only authorized and trained personnel permitted to use welding, cutting or brazing equipment?
  • Does each operator have a copy of the appropriate operating instructions and are they directed to follow them?
  • Is open circuit (No Load) voltage of arc welding and cutting machines as low as possible and not in excess of the recommended limits?
  • Under wet conditions, are automatic controls for reducing no load voltage used?
  • Is grounding of the machine frame and safety ground connections of portable machines checked periodically?
  • Are electrodes removed from the holders when not in use?
  • Is it required that electric power to the welder be shut off when no one is in attendance?
  • Is suitable fire extinguishing equipment available for immediate use?
  • Is the welder forbidden to coil or loop welding electrode cable around his body?
  • Are wet machines thoroughly dried and tested before being used?
  • Are work and electrode lead cables frequently inspected for wear and damage, and replaced when needed?
  • Do means for connecting cable lengths have adequate insulation?
  • When the object to be welded cannot be moved and fire hazards cannot be removed, are shields used to confine heat, sparks, and slag?
  • Are fire watchers assigned when welding or cutting is performed in locations where a serious fire might develop?
  • Are combustible floors kept wet, covered by damp sand, or protected by fire-resistant shields?
  • When floors are wet down, are personnel protected from possible electrical shock?
  • When welding is done on metal walls, are precautions taken to protect combustibles on the other side?
  • Before hot work is begun, are used drums, barrels, tanks, and other containers so thoroughly cleaned that no substances remain that could explode, ignite, or produce toxic vapors?
  • Is it required that eye protection helmets, hand shields and goggles meet appropriate standards?
  • Are employees exposed to the hazards created by welding, cutting, or brazing operations protected with personal protective equipment and clothing?
  • Is a check made for adequate ventilation in and where welding or cutting is performed?
  • When working in confined places, are environmental monitoring tests taken and means provided for quick removal of welders in case of an emergency?


  • Always operate in an open well-ventilated area or vent the engine exhaust directly outdoors.
  • Never fuel the engine while running or in the presence of an open flame.
  • Wipe up spilled fuel immediately and wait for fumes to disperse before starting the engine.
  • *Never remove the radiator pressure cap from liquid cooled engines while they are hot to prevent scalding yourself.
  • Stop the engine before performing any maintenance or trouble shooting. The ignition system should be disabled to prevent accidental start of the engine.
  • Keep all guards and shields in place.
  • Keep hands, hair, and clothing away from moving parts.

The welding area should always be equipped with a fire blanket and a well stocked first aid kit. It is desirable that one person be trained in first aid to treat the minor injuries that may occur. All injuries, no matter how minor they may seem can become more serious if not properly treated by trained medical personnel. Learn more: Top 5 Safety Tips For Metal Fabrication Workers

Leave a Reply

Back to top