MIG welding is now the most common type of welding in manufacturing, but it can also be one of the most dangerous. MIG welders are specially trained but require experience to do the job right, especially since many welding accidents are caused by carelessness or human error.
When it comes to MIG welding, the welder has to be protected against heat, electricity, gas, and even light produced by the equipment they use. When learning about the dangers of MIG welding, it’s also easy to learn about some of the most important safety principles so that you can reduce the odds of a serious accident happening.
What Are the Dangers of MIG Welding?
MIG welding dangers include a lot of different things that can happen because of how hot it gets when welding, and some of these dangers include the following:
- Electrical fumes
- Arc radiation fumes
- Welding fumes
- Inert gas
- Compressed gases
Because of these things, serious injuries can occur if the welder isn’t careful, but accidents can also happen due to faulty equipment. This is why the emphasis on safe equipment is so important when it comes to MIG welding. Before we get to the equipment required of MIG welders, let’s take a further look into some precautions that these professionals can take to keep them safer as they work. These include:
- Make sure that there is always adequate lighting
- Always check for gas leaks
- For cleanliness, locate a welding machine in a dry location on the floor of a welding booth
- If required, always use a respirator
- Always maintain and install your equipment properly
- Safely store flammable gases and liquids in a special storage locker
- Check all electrical cords for any tears, rips, or any wires sticking out
- Keep both a first-aid kit and a fire extinguisher on hand at all times
Naturally, you need the right welding gear that includes items specifically made to keep you safe. These include eye protection and protective clothing as well as a hat or welder beanie and a leather jacket or apron.
Protective clothing needs to include items such as:
- Long-sleeve shirt
- Pants that go over the tops of your shoes
- Shoe covers or spats (these are optional)
A little common sense also goes a long way when MIG welding. Always think about those around you, and keep in mind that a welding arc should never be seen by the naked eye closer than 20 feet away. Viewing it with the naked eye closer than that can be extremely damaging to the eyes and even your vision.
The Right Equipment Is Crucial
The MIG welding safety equipment list consists of protecting equipment that is a must when performing this type of welding. Let’s go into a little more detail about the type of equipment and gear that MIG welders need.
Your welding mask should have a lens rated at number 6 so that it can work up to 30 amperes. If you’ll be using more than 400 amperes a number 14 mask should be used. You can also keep yourself safer by closing your eyes immediately after you’re done welding. If you can still see the arc at this point, you should go to a darker lens shade.
Your boots should be steel-capped unless your supervisor requests otherwise.
Your eye protection includes safety glasses. These will protect your eyes against “welder’s flash,” which can damage your eyesight permanently. Shade numbers 11-12 are usually recommended.
If you have long hair, it needs to be covered. You should also cover the back of your head and the neck area so that problems from reflected radiation don’t occur.
Other equipment includes some type of protection clothing such as a leather apron, leather gloves, and either welding sleeves or a long-sleeve shirt in a dark color. The latter helps reduce reflection because of the dark color. You can also wear knee pads if you’re planning to work down low for long periods at a time. Keep in mind that leather, wool, and aluminum-coated cloth do a great job of withstanding radiant energy.
Your filter lens is also important, and it’s recommended that you start with a shade that is too dark for you to see the weld zone. Then, you can go to a lighter shade and work up from there. If the torch produces a high yellow light, you should use a lens that absorbs the yellow or sodium line in the visible light of the spectrum operation. You should also go with lighter filters when the arc is hidden by the workpiece.
Make Sure That Your Welding Space Is Safe
If you’re looking for a basic safety checklist for MIG welding, the following information should help.
First of all, your work space needs to be cleaned and organized, and you’ll need to remove anything flammable from the area. Check the ventilation, inspect your gas lines for leaks, and make sure you are never wearing any loose clothing or jewelry. These are things that you should do before you even get started.
When you’re ready to start working, make sure that all unauthorized personnel are removed from the work area and always position the flash blind so that those nearby are protected. Check all of your equipment settings and the cable position so that materials won’t fall and sparks won’t occur. You can also reduce much of the risk from fumes and smoke simply by using a shielding gas that has a higher percentage of argon and a pulse-spray mode of transfer.
Use MIG pliers if necessary to keep nozzles free of spatter. Clean nozzles always let go of the spatter on their own. Also keep in mind that you don’t need to push the gun into the arc because wire feeders will push wires. When you’re finished, simply turn off the machine and return the welding gun to storage where it belongs.
There are numerous other precautions, of course, and always remember that you cannot be too careful when it comes to MIG welding and safety. The main thing to remember is to use the right equipment, practice safety at all times, and pay attention to anything your supervisor tells you. These are always smart things to do when it comes to any type of welding.