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.
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.