Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welding is a process where a supply of solid wire electrode is fed to the welding gun and the pool to join two materials together. This is different from other welding processes and proper MIG welding safety precautions are important to mitigate risks. There are several factors to consider including maintenance, ventilation, cleanliness, protective safety gear, and more. In this article, we will examine this topic in more detail to help you avoid some common MIG welding hazards.
Preparing Your Work Area Taking MIG Welding Safety Precautions Into Account:
One of the top safety tips when MIG welding is to prepare the work area before you begin welding. Organizing the workspace can help you to reduce the risks significantly. There are two key considerations:
1. Clean the Work Area
A clean and tidy work area will be free of any potential trip hazards. Remove all the coatings and any paint before any welding begins. Get rid of the dirty plates in the workspace that could be contaminated with unknown compounds.
2. Flammable Liquid Removal
Throughout the MIG welding process sparks are generated and these increase the risk of a fire if flammable materials and liquids are present. To make the workspace safer these potential hazards should be removed from the work area.
It’s also important to check for flame retardant wall coverings and keep de-greasers at least 35 feet away from your welding station. Floor materials with flame-retardant properties such as cinder blocks and concrete are ideal for a welding workspace.
Check Ventilation in the Workshop
Adequate ventilation is necessary because welding certain materials can generate harmful fumes that can harm your health. So, it’s important to follow these seven tips to protect your health, they are:
- Ensure that the workspace has adequate ventilation.
- Use local exhaust ventilation.
- Don’t weld dirty plates.
- Wear respiratory protective gear.
- Be careful when welding materials that have toxic vapors, such as copper, cadmium, lead, and zinc.
- Use a carbon dioxide shield when necessary.
- Use a high percentage pulse spray or argon gas to minimize gas-related risks.
Inhaling harmful fumes during the welding process can cause many health problems. The severity will vary depending on the concentration and exposure times.
Five serious illnesses that can be caused if you don’t follow the MIG Welding Safety Precautions listed above:
- Irritation: When we inhale fumes and gasses, it can irritate the throat and lungs leading to dryness, a tight feeling in the chest, and breathing difficulties.
- Asthma: Exposure to nickel oxide, chromium, and other materials can cause asthma issues. Those with a pre-existing condition are more likely to be affected, but everyone is at risk.
- Metal Fume Fever: This is a welding-specific illness that manifests as flu in varying degrees of severity.
- Lung Infections: Long-term exposure to welding fumes and gases can cause pneumonia which may require hospitalization and/or a course of antibiotics to cure.
- Cancer: There are three main cancer risks, they are: lung, kidney, and mesothelioma, which are caused by inhaling welding gasses and fumes.
Remove any Loose Items or Jewelry Before Welding
Any good OSHA class will warn new welders to avoid wearing jewelry during the welding process. Another key safety tip is to avoid wearing loose clothing or other items that could be caught in the grinder. This is equally true for long hair which should always be tied back and kept well away from the equipment. Watches and jewelry can be damaged by MIG welding splatter and this can lead to skin burns. Removing all jewelry will reduce these risks and make the welding process safer.
Wear the Appropriate Safety Gear
Wearing proper safety Gear can protect MIG welders from potential sources of danger including fumes, gasses, fires, UV rays, and more. Protective clothing is essential when MIG welding, pant cuffs and sleeves should never be rolled up. Any splatters or sparks that land on exposed skin can cause severe burns.
Inspect Your Gas Lines
High-pressure gas from cylinders or bottles is required for MIG welding and the supply lines must be inspected before every welding session.
Nine things that you need to check to improve safety.
- The bottles must be chained.
- Each gas cylinder should be tested and re certified regularly.
- The bottles cannot be capped during welding.
- The gas cylinder certification must meet OSHA standards.
- Each cylinder must be in an upright safe position where it can’t be tipped over.
- The cylinders need to be in a protected area away from potential fire hazards.
- A high-pressure gas bottle must have all valves in the “On” or “Off” at the same time.
- The gas line should be inspected for leaks before welding commences.
- When the welding session is completed, the cylinder must be emptied and shut off.
Follow Appropriate Safety Steps
A clear and easy-to-follow safety checklist can take a lot of the risk out of your MIG welding sessions. Here are ten simple-to-follow steps that will improve safety:
- Clear any unauthorized personnel from the area.
- Inspect the welding machine to ensure that the correct voltage, current, and wire feed are set. The shielding gas flow rate should be set at this time.
- Inspect the shield and tip for signs of damage and replace them as needed.
- Clean the nozzles because the splatter will fall easier from a clean nozzle. Using anti-splatter compounds and regular cleaning will help.
- Don’t push the welding gun in the arc.
- Set up a UV screen or curtain to protect nearby workers.
- Ensure that the electrical contact from the welding return cable is good.
- Never leave your welding equipment unattended.
- Don’t place your hands near the electrode and work-piece.
- When the weld is completed turn off the shielding gas, shut off the machine, and make the hand-piece secure.
Wrapping Up-MIG Welding Safety Precautions
MIG welding safety precautions are important because welders are exposed to a number of hazardous elements. Anyone working with electrical tools is at risk of electrical shocks and fires but welding equipment has other risks. The inhalation of fumes and gasses can lead to a number of serious health issues and splatters can cause burns. Prevention is better than cure, following the safety advice and tips in this article should improve safety during the welding process.