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What is Welding?
What, briefly, does a welder do?
What are some health and safety hazards associated with being a welder?
Are there any long-term health effects of being a welder?
What are some preventative measures that can be taken?
What are some general safe work practices to know?
Where can I get more information?
What should I know before reading about this occupation?
What, briefly, does a welder do?
What are some health and safety hazards associated with being a welder?
Are there any long-term health effects of being a welder?
What are some preventative measures that can be taken?
What are some general safe work practices to know?
Where can I get more information?
How Welding Works
The History of Welding
Welding Tools
The Process of Welding
welding5.html A Good Weld Is Hard to Find welding6.html Welding in Industry (and Art!) What is Welding?

Welding is the process of joining pieces of metal together by melting each part and using a filler to form a joint. Welding can be carried out in several different ways: by using a gas flame, a laser, an electric arc, or even ultrasound.

Welding has actually been around for many centuries. Until recently, welding was done at a forge – a smith would heat up the two pieces of metal, then hammer them together. It wasn’t until the beginning of the 20th century that people began to use the welding equipment that we’re so accustomed to today.

Modern welding processes include arc welding, which uses an electrical current; gas welding, which is used on delicate materials that can’t withstand very high temperatures and resistance welding, which uses extra sheets of metal to encase the pieces that need welded together.

What should I know before reading about this occupation?

This profile summarizes the common issues and duties for welders. Welders can work at a wide variety of types of workplaces. Because each workplace is unique, there is no way to predict all of the possible hazards you may encounter. This summary focuses on the major job duties that most welders would have in common.

What, briefly, does a welder do?

Welders use specialized equipment to "weld" or join together metals. They will also cut or trim metal objects. There are many different types of welding including:

* gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW),
* gas metal arc welding (GMAW),
* flux-cored arc welding (FAW),
* plasma arc welding (PAW),
* shielded metal arc welding (SMAW),
* resistance welding and
* submerged arc welding (SAW).

Many will also solder and grind materials. Flame cutting equipment, and various metal shaping machines (shears, straighteners, bending machines) may also be used.

Welders need to know how to prepare the metal for welding or cutting. They need to know which type of welding to do, how to use their equipment safely, how to follow work procedures, and what procedures to use for quality control.

Welders can work in places that manufacture structural steel, boilers, heavy machinery, air crafts, and ships. They also work in many industrial sectors such as automotive, oil and gas, manufacturing, forestry, mining, construction, etc.

What are some health and safety hazards associated with being a welder?

Hazards typically fall into one of six general categories as listed below. For more information on that issue, prevention, or how to work safely with a chemical or material, click on the links where provided. Biological

While it depends on the workplace itself, welders do not normally encounter biological hazards.


Welding can create fumes which are a complex mixture of metallic oxides, silicates and fluorides. Fumes are formed when a metal is heated above its boiling point and its vapours condense into very fine particles (solid particulates). Welding fumes normally contain oxides of the materials being welded and of the electrodes being used. If the metal has a coating or paint, these too can decompose with the heat and become part of the fumes. Care should be taken when working near these fumes.

Welders also often work with and around:

* flammable and combustible liquids
* compressed gases


Many injuries to welders are the result of strains, sprains and work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs). Welders often have to:

* lift or move heavy objects,
* work in awkward positions for long periods of time,
* handle and hold heavy welding guns, and/or
* perform repetitive motions.

See OSH Answers document on Welding - Ergonomics for more information. Physical

Welders can be exposed to:

* excessive noise levels
* excessive heat or cold

Welding arcs and flames can emit intense visible (VIS), ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) radiation. Gamma- or X-rays can be emitted by inspection equipment or welding machines. Skin and eye damage such as "welder's eye" or cataracts can result to certain types of radiation. Safety

Welders often have to work:

* at heights,
* in confined spaces, or
* could experience electrical shock or electrocution.

Other safety hazards include:

* flying particles which can enter the eye or skin,
* cuts and stabs from sharp metal edges,
* burns from hot surfaces, flames, sparks, etc.,
* fires from sparks, flames or hot metals (a special situation includes when the surrounding atmosphere becomes oxygen enriched and thus easier to ignite.) Fires may also result from flashbacks or equipment failure. Please note that clothes soiled with oils or grease can burn more easily. In addition, sleeves or cuffs that are folded or rolled up can "catch" sparks and increase the risk of fire.


Work demands and deadlines may contribute to stress felt on the job.
In addition, some welders may be required to work shifts or extended work days which can have health effects.

Are there any long-term health effects of being a welder?

According to the International Labour Office (ILO), welders are at increased risk of:

* Respiratory tract infections have been shown to be increased in severity and frequency among welders. Chemical irritation due to exposure to metal fumes seems to be the cause of respiratory infections.

* Pneumoconiosis (a chronic respiratory disease caused by inhaling metallic or mineral particles); in particular siderosis, a type of pneumoconiosis, related to inhaling iron oxide).

* Certain cancers (e.g., liver, nasal, sinonasal, stomach, and lung). The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded that welding fumes were "possible carcinogenic to humans" Group 2B.

* Possible hearing loss.

* The exposure to UV light may result in chronic damage to the eyes and skin.

* Damage to the central nervous system, when exposed to lead, manganese and aluminum fumes.

* Respiratory disease from high concentrations of carbon dioxide and related oxygen deficient atmospheres (particularly in poorly ventilated places).

* Chronic poisoning when certain materials are present in welding fumes such as zinc or cadmium, polychlorinated biphenyls (from decomposition of anti-corrosion oils), or decomposition products from paints.

(Source: "Guide to Occupations: Welder." In Encyclopaedia of Occupational Health and Safety. 4th edition. Geneva: International Labour Office, 1998. Pages 103.33-103.34)

What are some preventative measures that can be taken?

* Install effective ventilation where ever possible.

* Always wear the correct personal protective equipment (PPE). Welders should wear eye wear that has UV protection. They also should use ear protection. If local exhaust ventilation is not adequate or practical, respiratory equipment should be used. Aprons and fire resistant heavy leather gloves will help protect the hands and clothing.

* Be sure that flammable and combustible materials are stored far away from the work areas.

* Inspect ladders or scaffolding before using. Know how to use fall protection equipment, and use where appropriate.

* Learn safe lifting techniques.

* If a job requires work in an awkward position (e.g., with hands above shoulder level) be sure to take frequent breaks.

What are some general safe work practices to know?

Welders will need to know:

* general information/tips about welding
* proper selection, use, maintenance and storage of PPE
* confined space entry procedures
* fall protection procedures
* lock-out / tag-out procedures
* how to work safely with flammable and combustible liquids
* how to work safety with compressed gases
* how to work safely with power tools, and
* working safely on ladders, and platforms / scaffolds
* manual material handling (lifting) techniques

All workers should:

* follow company safety rules
* know about WHMIS and MSDSs
* hazard reporting, and
* good housekeeping procedures.

Where can I get more information?

Because of the wide variety of workplaces where welding may occur, and the vast range of materials used by welders, all situations cannot be covered in this document.

NOTE: If you have health concerns, ask your doctor or medical professional for advice.

If you have any questions or concerns about your specific workplace, you can ask one or more of the following for help:

* your health and safety committee or representative,
* your union,
* your safety department,
* your supervisor or manager,
* check with your local library,
* your local government department responsible for health and safety.

General information is available in OSH Answers or through the CCOHS person-to-person Inquiries Service.