Know Your Metalworking Safety Gear

Whether you’re welding, cutting, shaping, finishing, or grinding metal, you need to protect yourself from sharp edges and metal dust that can injure eyes, hands, skin, lungs, and more. Selecting the proper safety wear is an important part of any metalworking job.

Eye and lung protection

The primary article of safety gear for any metal shop worker should be safety glasses or goggles. Glasses are available with lightweight, flexible frames with impact resistant lenses and come in a range of styles and lens colors, including clear, smoke, yellow, blue, and mirrored. Goggles are heavier but provide additional side and top protection, especially from gases and air-borne particles.

Respirators provide protection from dangerous gases, vapors and particulate hazards produced when fillers, coatings, shielding gases, and metals are heated to high temperatures during the welding process. Ergonomically designed respirators made of silicone are available that fit comfortably with or underneath goggles or a welding helmet.

Safety gloves

There are dozens of styles of safety gloves on the market, for many types and levels of protection. It’s important to balance the protection level with the dexterity required in working with safety gloves. For example, a leather glove provides strong protection against cuts, yet can be clumsy, making it hard to grasp and hold small objects. At the same time, painting or staining metal or wood with harsh chemicals may best be accomplished with waterproof, flexible latex gloves.

High-tech nitrile yarn gloves provide high-level cut resistance, and double dipped coating adds chemical resistance while retaining flexibility. Contour fit synthetic leather and neoprene welding gloves provide sensitivity in the fingers, as well as strong protection on the knuckles and other areas.

Choosing the right size glove is just as important as choosing the right style. For example, if a worker with small hands uses a pair of XXL gloves, they may easily slip down or off right when their protection is needed. Conversely, a person with very large hands can’t squeeze into medium-sized gloves, and so may not wear the necessary protection.

Knee, Back & Arm Protection

Kneeling or crouching while welding a difficult part together may cause knee strain or injury. Protect your knees with a set of kneepads with either foam padding or gel inserts. Styles are available for those who are allergic to latex. Kneepads with a two-strap system are more comfortable and are easy to put on and take off.
Welding jackets, capes, and sleeves made of flame resistant materials add additional protection for backs and arms during the welding process.

For more information on metalworking safety gear, visit Industrial Metal Supply.

Before Your First Weld: How to Prepare

The first step in welding preparation is deciding which method of welding to use. This will depend on the skill level of the welder and the equipment available. If welding outdoors, you will need to consider the weather – it’s not a good idea to perform MIG or TIG welding in windy conditions, which could blow away the protective gases that shield the weld from oxidation.

Before firing up a welding torch, it’s important to be fully prepared with all the necessary welding materials and equipment, along with the metal pieces to be welded.

Preparing metal for welding should include inspection and removal of any rust or paint using steel wool or a grinder with a wire brush. You also may need to remove an old or bad weld with a grinder. Some types of welding can be accomplished even with rusty or dirty metal parts, or on painted metal. However, without cleaning off contaminants such as coatings, dust or debris from the metal surface, the final weld may be weak or defective.

Welding materials

Materials for welding include not only the welding machines themselves, but all sorts of equipment and supplies. Consumables include welding wire, solder, brazing rods, flux, anti-spatter, and stick electrodes. You will need MIG wire contact tips for the welding torch, and replacement gas nozzles and diffusers. Soapstone can be used to visibly mark the desired welding path so that it can be seen even through a darkened face shield. Various metal weld-on tabs may be necessary to create handles, holes, or flanges welded onto pipes or other objects.

To protect skin from sparks you will need to wear personal protective equipment, including leather welding bibs, overalls or aprons, leather gloves, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and leather shoes. An auto-darkening welding helmet allows the welder to see as clearly as possible without eye damage, even in the strong light of the welding flame. Fiberglass welding blankets can also be used to prevent the spread of sparks.

You may need a variety of welding magnets for holding the metal pieces in different configurations or for welding thin pieces of sheet metal. Projects of various sizes and shapes require different types of magnets, including squares with various angles options, Adjust-O magnets that turn on and off, sheet metal magnets, corner magnets, and snake magnets. Clamps, adjustable welding tables and workstands can also help hold parts in the necessary position.

Contact IMS for all the necessary welding materials for your project.