It’s no question that you need to occasionally update your equipment, techniques and technology to keep up with changes in the industry and customers’ needs. While you’re doing that, don’t forget to update your safety training and standards, as well. Aluminum welding has some unique challenges and requirements, and the safety rules have changed a bit, too. Get to know the risks associated with aluminum to help keep your techs safe.
Aluminum Particles from Welding
The fumes generated by welding aluminum can be pretty hazardous. There are bits of aluminum in the fumes themselves, and exposure can be bad news for your health, especially as these types of jobs become more and more common and your techs are around the fumes more often. The key to safety here is to ensure the chemicals are removed properly with a fume extractor. Look for one you can position right at the welding zone to neutralize those toxins at the source.
Aluminum is more reflective than other materials, and that’s important when it comes to UV radiation. Here’s how it works: Ultraviolet radiation is produced when welding, and it affects the oxygen in the air around you, creating ozone (O3). That radiation effect is magnified by the reflectiveness of aluminum. Ozone can cause respiratory issues, so the OSHA welding fact sheet recommends adequate local and general ventilation to reduce your exposure to all welding fumes, including gasses like ozone.
Heat is a factor in any welding job, of course, but it gets a little more complicated with aluminum welding. Aluminum doesn’t change color when heated until after it’s reached its melting point. That can make it difficult to tell which areas are hot. Always wear gloves and other protective clothing while welding to avoid burns.
When working with anything new – material or machine – it’s important to learn first and use second. Make sure your techs know how to properly run the aluminum welders in your shop and the basics of working with aluminum. Provide additional training if needed, and arm them with the right tools for the job.
When you have the right elements in place, your techs will be ready to safely handle the aluminum jobs that are bound to come their way.
Learn more about working with aluminum by downloading our guide to aluminum industry terms.