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How to Choose the Best Welding PPE

Welding is hot and dangerous work. This means choosing the right Welding PPE is essential.

Workers who weld understand that personal protective equipment is crucial to staying safe in the workplace, so it is not likely that you will see someone not wearing vital safety gear. However, comfort and fit are important to keep you going all day.

Are you tasked with buying or finding protective equipment? Here are some helpful tips for choosing the best PPE for Welding:

  1. Head Protection
  2. Eye Protection
  3. Hand Protection
  4. Respiratory Protection
  5. Body Protection
  6. Foot Protection
  7. Workplace Safety

1. Head Protection

Head protection comes in the form of a helmet, a browguard, a head shield, and/or a welding screen to protect from UV radiation, infrared, molten metal, and impact. 

There are important considerations to keep in mind when choosing the correct headgear, such as the range of vision and the level of protection. Most head protection ensures comfort.

They can have a variety of shade settings, like automatic darkening when it gets bright. Other settings protect the worker if there is any gas, low-amp TIG, arc welding and micro-plasma.

There are many varieties of head protection that are lightweight. Some can detect arc welding light and then become transparent when the arc welder stops.

Also, there are other safety features that allow spatter to roll down the headgear instead of pooling. Others have cut-aways to prevent shoulder contact. This ensures that the helmet does not move.

The head protection you need will vary by industry, but make sure the shields are approved under EN 379, EN 175, and/or EN 166 39B regulations.

2. Eye Protection

Even when wearing a face shield or helmet, welders need goggles too. There are safety glasses that range from simple sunglass-like protection to full all-encompassing eye protection.

You can wear these over prescription glasses. Many lenses come in Shade 5 protection, and some offer varying fields of vision. Some have soft PVC frames. Most are splatter resistant.

The new eye protection technology has grey-tinted lenses that offer protection without colour loss. This means you will lose the traditional ‘green’. These grey lenses protect your eyes from sun glare and welding.

All eye protection has varying safety features such as scratch resistance, anti-mist and fog, adjustable fit and is lightweight.

Make sure your goggles or overspecs meet these European safety standards: EN 166 1F, EN 166, EN 176, and/or EN 169.

3. Hand Protection

Welding PPE gloves should be robust and hard wearing for top safety. The gloves should be approved to BS EN 388:1994, BS EN 407:1994, and BS EN 12477 standards.

Welding PPE gloves are often made of Kevlar, sheepskin, or leather. Some can cover the forearm, have speciality linings, and come with no or welted seams to protect from fire. 

4. Respiratory Protection

You need to supply suitable respiratory protection. Correct fit testing, training, maintenance, use, and records must be kept for safety.

For welding, the main hazards are welding fumes, gases, and vapours, which can cause severe health problems if they are not protected against. The welding PPE you will need depends on type and duration of use.

There are two main types of respirators for welding: powered respirators and valve respirators. Powered respirators are most often used for professional welders and provide the most safety as they force filtered air through the system to aid in breathing.

The downside is that they can often be heavy and require more strain on the head by having to tighten head straps, but new designs ease some of these concerns. Valve respirators look like face masks and have a filter technology.

Most are metal free, have adjustable head straps for a secure fit, and come with preformed shapes. Exhalation valves often reduce temperature and humidity. Carbon filters can protect against dust, oil-based mists, water-based mists, metallic fume, ozone, and odours. Some are flame retardant and clog resistant.

5. Body Protection

Clothing depends on the duration and the purpose of the welding activity. Covering the whole body with flame retardant material is a must. 

Clothing must meet EN ISO 11611: 2007 regulation, a standard for welding clothing. Clothing must be anti static. The clothing seams are also tested for anti-static and flame spread for maximum protection.

Welding protection is being tested to withstand repeated washings (as stated by the manufacturer) to ensure that it is safe from day one to the fiftieth wash. Any clothing that is no longer safe should be replaced.

Clothing protection can range from light splatter to heavy splatter. Light splatter includes gas, TIG, micro plasm, brazing, spot, and MMA welding. Heavy splatter includes MMA covered electrode, MAG, MIGH, self shielded flux core arc, plasma cutting, gouging, oxygen cutting, and thermal spraying welding types. Make sure you are wearing the correct rated clothing for your particular uses.

Protective garments range from jackets to coveralls.

6. Foot Protection

For foot protection, welders need welding boots and optional gaiters. Safety footwear is important as is comfort and protection.

All footwear should be tested to EN ISO 20345 standards and should have an anti-static, anti-shock, cushion, and heat-resistant properties. They should withstand heat to 300°C. Other nice features are moisture wicking properties, dual-density rubber soles, and quick release fasteners.

Heavy duty chrome leather gaiters can be worn over work shoes to protect against spatter.

7. Workplace Safety

For added workplace safety, welding environments should have welding PPE curtains, smooth glass cloth, and antifatigue mats. Some curtains come in portable varieties to be moved to and from work areas and in different colours. Smooth glass cloth is intended for short-term use up to 600°C and can be used up to 400°C.

There are two different cloths that have many benefits, glass cloth and Fortaglas Weldstop cloths.

A Glass cloth is ideal for thermal insulation, fire protection/blankets, welding screens to protect against sparks, smoke curtains, and electrical and hose insulation.

Fortaglas Weldstop cloths are heat resistant to withstand oxygen rich flame penetration over 1500’c. It is resistant to molten metal and metal droplets that weigh up to 70 grams. Also, it can be contained and cooled on the fabric without penetration. It is abrasion resistant, and rough handling does not lessen its effectiveness.

They make anti fatigue mats out of rubber and repel sparks and hot metal shards.

Conclusion

Different welding activities require you to wear different types of protection for your head, eyes, hands, body, feet, and respiration. You also need to consider workplace safety as well as PPE.

When deciding what to buy, research the positives and negatives to see which best fit your requirements. It is important to make sure the personal protective equipment meets the correct safety standards.

Also make sure you understand how to look after your personal protective equipment because each piece has different ways of doing this. Some are harder than others. Replace if it is no longer safe.

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