A welder or helper working on platforms, scaffolds, or runways must be protected against falling. This may be accomplished by the use of railings, safety belts, life lines, or some other equally effective safeguards. Although OSHA does not specify in 1910.252(b) at which height fall protection is required, other regulations do.
So, the question is, at which height must a welder use fall protection if welding above a lower level? The answer is at any height, depending on the nature of the hazard.
In 2014, a worker was engaged in welding while positioned on a mast scaffold. He finished working in one area, unhooked his fall protection safety device, a double lanyard, and began to transit from the west end of the scaffold. According to witnesses, he tripped over the welder. He fell downward feet first, hitting the small welding platform and then an extended part of the building called a "bumpout." The area that he fell through was 14 feet long and 55 inches from the building. He then fell to the asphalt surface below, which was a fall height of 75 feet 6 inches. The worker died in the fall.
Helmets and Face shields: Use helmets or face shields during all arc welding or arc cutting operations, excluding submerged arc welding. Provide proper eye protection to all helpers or attendants.
Goggles and Spectacles: Use goggles or other suitable eye protection during all gas welding or oxygen cutting operations. It is okay to use spectacles without side shields, with suitable filter lenses, during gas welding operations on light work, for torch brazing or for inspection.
All operators and attendants of resistance welding or resistance brazing equipment must use transparent face shields or goggles, depending on the particular job, to protect their faces or eyes, as required.
Eye protection in the form of suitable goggles must be provided where needed for brazing operations not covered in 1910.252 (b)(2)(i).
Follow these guidelines for head and face protection:
The guide to the right is used for the selection of the proper shade numbers. Employers can vary these recommendations to suit the individual's needs.
NOTE: In gas welding or oxygen cutting where the torch produces a high yellow light, it is desirable to use a filter or lens that absorbs the yellow or sodium line in the visible light of the operation.
Filter lenses should meet the test for transmission of radiant energy prescribed by consensus standards.
Protection from arc welding rays: Where the work permits, enclose the welder in an individual booth painted with a finish of low reflectivity such as zinc oxide (an important factor for absorbing ultraviolet radiations) and lamp black, or must be enclosed with noncombustible screens similarly painted.
A variety of special clothing is available to protect the body during cutting and welding operations. The protective clothing will vary with the size, location, and nature of the work performed.
During ANY welding or cutting operation, you should wear flameproof gauntlets at all times.
Choosing the proper clothing for welding and cutting is important for safety and comfort.
In 2011, a worker was operating a plasma cutter, cutting notches in a 3-inch by 6-inch (76 mm by 152 mm) steel tubing, when sparks and/or slag from the cut contacted his shirt. The shirt, labeled 100 percent cotton, caught on fire and burned at a rapid pace consistent with that of clothing made from a synthetic material. He sustained second- and third-degree burns on the side of his abdomen and to his left arm.
Some light gas welding and cutting jobs require no special protective clothing other than gauntlets and goggles, if you wear regular work clothing correctly.
Wearing clothing in the manner described below decreases the probability that sparks will lodge in folds of cloth, such as rolled-up sleeves and cuffs, pockets, or the shirt collar.
During medium and heavy welding, specially designed flameproof clothing made of leather, or other suitable material, may be required. A wide choice of protective clothing is available so you can select the type required for any particular welding or cutting job. This clothing consists of aprons, sleeves, a combination of sleeves and bib, jackets, and overalls.
Consider the following when selecting protective clothing:
During overhead welding operations, it is important to wear additional personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect against burns and falling objects.
For more information on welding PPE, see the Personal Protective Equipment poster by Lincoln Electric.