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Course 745 - Welding, Cutting, and Brazing Safety

Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Welding Personal Protective Equipment

Fall Protection

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.

  • In general industry, welding and other work is required by 1910.28 when working 4 feet or more above a lower surface.
  • In construction, welding and other work is required by 1926.501 when working 6 feet or more above a lower surface.
  • In general industry and construction, welding and other work is required by at any height above dangerous equipment.

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.

Real-Life Accident

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.

Face and Eye Protection

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).

1. A welder may be required to use fall protection _____.

a. at more than 6 feet in height
b. above 4 feet in height
c. 10 feet in height or more
d. at any height

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Specifications for Protectors

Follow these guidelines for head and face protection:

Helmet Tips – Not necessarily endorsed.
  • Helmets and face shields must be made of a material that is an insulator for heat and electricity.
  • Helmets, shields, and goggles must be not readily flammable and must be capable of withstanding sterilization.
  • Arrange helmets and face shields to protect the face, neck and ears from direct radiant energy from the arc.
  • Provide helmets with filter plates and cover plates designed for easy removal.
  • Construct all parts of a material that will not readily corrode or discolor the skin.
  • Ventilate goggles to prevent fogging of the lenses as much as practicable.
  • Temper all glass for lenses, substantially free from striae, air bubbles, waves and other flaws.
  • The front and rear surfaces of lenses and windows must be smooth and parallel, except when a lens is ground to provide proper optical correction for defective vision.
  • Lenses must bear some permanent distinctive marking which may readily identify the source and shade.
shade numbers
Proper Shade Numbers
Click to Enlarge

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.

  • Booths and screens must permit circulation of air at floor level.
  • Protect workers or other persons adjacent to the welding areas from the rays by non-combustible or flameproof screens or shields. If this is not possible, they must be required to wear appropriate goggles.

2. Which body parts do helmets and face shields protect against exposure to direct radiant energy?

a. Hands, head, and eyes
b. Face, neck, and ears
c. Eyes and ears
d. Face and ears

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Protective Clothing

protective clothing

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.

  • For gas welding and cutting, a five-finger glove is generally used.
  • For electric arc welding, a gauntlet-type mitt is recommended.
  • Gauntlets protect the hands from both heat and metal spatter.
  • The one-finger mitt designed for electric arc welding has an advantage over the glove because it reduces the danger of weld spatter and sparks lodging between the fingers. It also reduces the chafing of fingers, which sometimes occurs when using five-finger gloves for electric arc welding.

Choosing the proper clothing for welding and cutting is important for safety and comfort.

protective clothing
  • Do not wear oilskins or plastic clothing during welding or cutting.
  • If leather protective clothing is not available, wear woolen garments rather than cotton garments. Wool does not ignite as readily as cotton, and it affords greater protection from changes in temperature.
  • Chemically treat cotton clothing, if necessary, to reduce its flammability. Do not wear synthetic fabrics.

Real-Life Accident

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.

3. If leather protective clothing is not available, what type of protective clothing should be worn because it doesn't catch fire readily?

a. Woolen
b. Cotton
c. Synthetic
d. Plastic

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gas welding

Light Gas Welding and Cutting

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.

  • Roll sleeves down, button collar and cuffs. Eliminate pockets not protected by button-down flaps from the front of work clothing.
  • Do not turn trouser cuffs up on the outside. All other clothing should be free of oil and grease.
  • Wear high-top or safety shoes, instead of low-cut shoes with unprotected tops.

4. All of the following actions help to decrease the probability that sparks will lodge in the folds of clothing EXCEPT _____.

a. turning trouser cuffs up on the outside
b. keeping clothes free from oil and grease
c. wearing high-top or safety shoes
d. rolling sleeves down and buttoning collars and cuffs

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Medium and Heavy Welding


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:

  • Capes and sleeves are particularly suitable for overhead welding because the cape protects the back of the neck, top of the shoulders, and upper part of the back and chest.
  • Use of the bib in combination with the cape and sleeves gives added protection to the chest and abdomen in jobs where protection for the lower part of the back is not required.
  • As needed, wear the jacket only when complete all-around protection for the upper part of the body, such as when several welders are working near each other.
  • Aprons and overalls provide protection to the legs and, therefore, are suitable for welding operations on the floor.
  • For very heavy work, wear fire-resistant leggings or high boots. Do NOT wear shoes or boots that have exposed nail heads or rivets.

5. Which of the following provides protection to the legs and therefore are suitable for welding operations on the floor?

a. Bibs and jackets
b. Jackets
c. Capes and sleeves
d. Aprons and overalls

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Overhead Operations

During overhead welding operations, it is important to wear additional personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect against burns and falling objects.

  • Wear leather caps under helmets to prevent head burns.
  • Where the welder may be exposed to sharp or heavy falling objects attach hard hats or head protectors in such a way as to form a part of the welding helmet.

For more information on welding PPE, see the Personal Protective Equipment poster by Lincoln Electric.

6. What should be worn when welding overhead to prevent head burns?

a. Full face respirators
b. Hard hats
c. Hairnets
d. Leather caps

Check your Work

Read the material in each section to find the correct answer to each quiz question. After answering all the questions, click on the "Check Quiz Answers" button to grade your quiz and see your score. You will receive a message if you forgot to answer one of the questions. After clicking the button, the questions you missed will be listed below. You can correct any missed questions and check your answers again.

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