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Welding Safety

April 28, 2016

OSI has conducted industrial hygiene monitoring for welding fumes using NIOSH 7300 and OSHA ID-215 sampling methods. We have found detectable concentrations of metals ranging from arsenic to chromium (trivalent and hexavalent). Positive results were typically found in environments with little to no engineering controls or ineffective local exhaust ventilation systems. OSI was able to minimize the exposures to be well below their respective limits using engineering, administrative, and personal protective controls.

Welding is broken up into two groups, fusion and pressure welding. Within these two groups of welding there are more than thirty types of welding. The common welding types are Flux Core Arc Welding (FCAW), Shielded Metal Arc (SMAW), Gas Metal Arc (MIG), and Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG). All welding process produces visible smoke that contains harmful metal fumes. If not properly controlled, welders can be exposed to fumes containing:

Aluminum
Antimony
Arsenic
Beryllium
Cadmium
Chromium
Cobalt
Copper
Iron
Lead
Manganese
Molybdenum
Nickel
Silver
Tin
Titanium
Vanadium
Zinc

General ventilation can be used to reduce fume or gas levels in the work area. However, local exhaust ventilation is typically used to remove fume and gases from the breathing zone. If used properly (maintaining effective face velocity), local exhaust ventilation can greatly reduce a welders exposure to fumes below any exposure limits. Industrial hygiene monitoring can be used to confirm the effectiveness of these engineering controls, and to determine if respiratory protection is required.

If stainless steel is used in welding, dangerous fumes containing hexavalent chromium, Cr (VI), can be produced. Chromium is a component in stainless steel, and can be converted to its hexavalent state during the welding process. Cal/OSHA regulates Cr(VI) exposures with a permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 0.005 mg/m3.

Certification and testing of local exhaust ventilation can be conducted by OSI. For more information or to schedule industrial hygiene or ventilation testing, please contact OSI.