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Welding is an important component of the oil and gas business, thus welders’ safety has become a top concern. The main challenges that welding in the oil industry poses are:
- exposure to gases and fumes
- exposure to UV and IR radiation
- electric shock
- noise hazards
Welding is dangerous in many different ways, due to the fact that it may involve work on rigs or operating in the field. Welding hazards can appear at any time and anywhere.
Welders working in the oil and gas sector require personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect themselves from harm. Welders on long-distance pipelines and rigs can work 10-12 hour days, which means their PPE must be both safe and comfortable to wear for extended periods of time.
When welding, you are vulnerable to dangerous burns since high-temperature welding arcs, UV rays, and molten metal. The searing pain is another common sensation that people who are stricken with scald burns feel. Burns can affect the skin or eyes, and they may be quite dangerous. They can also happen rather suddenly.
When welders believe they can simply skip taking measures for a few brief welds, they are more likely to suffer burns. This is poor form. If you take precautions, you should be able to avoid burns.
To treat a skin welding burn, first, get out of the heat and make the burn as pain-free as possible. It’s like getting a sunburn, only much more painful. Use the treatment you would use for a bad sunburn.
Contact a doctor as soon as possible if you have a flash burn of the eye. To help your eyes, a doctor will generally give you relaxing drops, eye patches, and antibiotics.
Gases and fumes
Welding generates a variety of airborne contaminants, such as ozone, nitrogen oxides, chromium and nickel oxides, and carbon monoxide, which can easily enter your lungs. The amount, type, and duration of your exposure to the gas or fume will determine the degree of harm caused.
Wearing a mask and being safety conscious is the best way to avoid getting sick from welding fumes. Welding gases can cause several different illnesses that range including pneumonia, cancer (in extreme circumstances), asthma, or metal fume fever which could lead to permanent lung damage. Other possible effects include throat irritation or allergic reactions.
UV and IR radiation
All arc processes emit UV radiation. Excessive UV exposure can cause skin irritation and, in extreme cases, skin cancer or eye damage. However, the most frequent injury among welders is arc eye, also known as “flash,” which is an inflammation of the cornea and conjunctiva.
UV radiation is the cause of the arc eye. This causes harm to the corneal’s outermost protective layer of cells. The damaged cells eventually die and fall off the cornea, leaving the underlying cornea vulnerable to highly sensitive nerves in the underlayer.
Infrared radiation has a longer wavelength than visible light frequencies and is felt as heat. The major danger to the eyes is that prolonged contact may cause the lens to become opaque.
Fortunately, the heat produced by a standard welding arc is limited in distance. If the eyes are exposed to arc heat, there is an uncomfortable burning sensation in the skin around them.
Arc welding entails the use of live electrical circuits to manufacture a pool of molten metal during the process. As a result, you run a danger of receiving an electric shock when welding.
Welding is the most severe risk of electrical shock and can result in serious injuries or fatalities. If you touch any portion of the welding or electrode circuit at the same time as a portion of the metal you are welding, you may get a secondary electric shock.
You are more exposed if you work in an environment that is electrically dangerous. You have welding equipment that sparks frequently or if the welding circuit is faulty. Even welding near power lines could result in a fatal shock, so be aware of your surroundings when welding.
When working with high heat, it’s critical to perform a hazard assessment to see where the dangers may be. Inspect the work area to be sure that any fuel and ignition sources are kept separate by shielding, cleaning up the place, lockout, or soaking combustible material with water.
Always use the right PPE. A face shield, a well-fitting professional leather welder’s vest, and at least gauntlet gloves are required. Cotton or denim clothing might be useful.
Ask your employer to provide UV protection for arc welding whenever feasible. Arc and gas welder equipment must also be inspected before being put into use (arc or gas welding/burning).
Leaks are something that is rarely considered, especially gas torches, gauges, and hoses. This technique can save your life as well as providing ample ventilation from hazardous welding and cutting fumes.
After that, the supervisor is responsible for reviewing and renewing the hot work permit if necessary. Also, maintain a watch on the availability of adequate fire watch/fire protection equipment. Fire drills might also be used to help you get acclimated to welding in a hazardous environment.
Finally, don’t forget the weather!
Offshore welders operate in environments with frequently changing weather patterns. Welders on rigs may be subjected to strong winds, which can quickly drain their strength and make welding a difficult job.
Welders must have a range of PPE choices that are appropriate to both their work and the changing conditions. Bundle up. You need to keep the sensation in your fingertips, and you can’t afford to be sidetracked, so don’t take chances. This is especially significant if you’ll be working from a height. Even if you’re only a few feet above the ground, you may be catching a lot more wind and that immediately expels the heat out of you.
AWS codes usually require a preheat of the steel to around 65 or 70 degrees if the base metal is 32 or below. For those who work on bridges, the authorities recommend not welding when the ambient temperature is below 0°F (-18°C).
The code for pressure vessel work requires a minimum temperature of 32°F (0°C). Welding at temperatures below 50°F (10°C) is not permitted by the AWS welding standards, which state that it’s dangerous to weld when the temperature is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
As a conclusion, welding is often dangerous and welding jobs come with a variety of risks. Most welding procedures must be done under controlled conditions, but it’s very important to take into account all possible hazards during the pre-welding assessment process in order to provide adequate protection for yourself as you carry out your work.