The Importance of Welding Dedusting Equipment
Welding produces fumes that contain metal dust particles. These particles can be iron oxide or magnesium, or they can be hexavalent chromium (from welding stainless steel) or zinc oxide (from plated or galvanized metals). Overexposure to these particles can cause eye and throat irritation, coughing, weakness and headaches.
Extraction at the source is essential for keeping workers safe. However, even a well-designed extraction system needs to be operated correctly.
A welding process produces dangerous gases and dust particles in the air. These must be continuously filtered to prevent exposure. This is important for the health of welders and other employees. It also helps to keep the welding dedusting equipment environment clean. Poor air quality can lead to high absenteeism, staff turnover and even expensive fines if not addressed. To help control the level of fumes in the workplace, it is best to use a combination of local exhaust and forced dilution ventilation. This will allow you to stay below the PELs and TLVs outlined by OSHA for materials in the fume.
Welding fumes can contain toxic elements such as ozone, nitrogen dioxide and nitric oxide. They can cause irritation to the eyes, nose and throat. At higher levels, they can cause fluid in the lungs and other long-term pulmonary problems. They can also contain heavy metals such as hexavalent chromium and nickel.
The best way to minimize the risk of these contaminants is by using a gas extraction system that filters both particulates and gases. Other methods include changing power settings and using protective equipment. However, these measures are not sufficient to reduce all risks of toxicity from welding processes. A thorough industrial hygiene assessment is also necessary to identify harmful components in the air and determine what controls are required.
Many types of workplace materials generate combustible dust. Industrial processes such as abrasive blasting, cutting, crushing, grinding, sieving, mixing, polishing, and welding can all release combustible dust into the air. These fine particles can be ignited by open flames, sparks, friction, or hot machinery components. They can also be sparked by static electricity. This is especially dangerous when the finely divided particles are confined in a small area. These conditions are often the cause of major explosions that can be deadly. It is important to know whether the dust in your workplace is combustible, and it may be necessary to have independent testing conducted by licensed laboratories.
A professional design firm can help you create a system that will effectively capture, convey, and contain hazardous combustible dust particles. This system should include a dust collector with filters that will not release dangerous fumes into the air, as well as local exhaust ventilation (LEV) to reduce the amount of combustible dust in the work environment.
A good dedusting system will provide your skilled welding team with clean air free of welding smoke and dangerous dust particles throughout their shift. It will also be able to filter out contaminants such as heavy metals that are above the occupational exposure limits. In addition, the system should not interfere with the quality of Robot welding. The system we designed and built for a steel structure welding workshop has proven to be highly effective in this regard.
Welding fumes, gases and vapors pose a variety of health hazards to workers. Regardless of whether you perform fusion welding that applies only heat or combine it with pressure (gas, electric arc or laser processes), all methods produce hazardous fumes. These fumes, which are actually tiny airborne dust particles, can irritate the eyes and skin and be toxic when swallowed or inhaled. They can contain ingredients such as iron oxide, chromium, copper, zinc oxide and cadmium. The particulate matter generated from welding also has a very small diameter and can easily reach deep in the lungs or respiratory ducts and enter the blood stream. The fumes can also generate harmful gasses such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide.
While it is widely believed that the dusts generated during welding are not combustible, there is a remote chance that they could be. Therefore, it is important to conduct a combustible dust hazard analysis and have your ducting and extraction equipment tested on a regular basis.
Long-term exposure to welding fumes and vapors can result in a variety of health issues including lung irritation, metal fume fever, skin welding dedusting equipment problems and damage to the nervous system. These risks can be reduced through elimination and substitution controls (e.g., removing coatings prior to welding and using a lower fume-generating process), engineering controls (e.g., local exhaust ventilation), work practices and worker training. Risk assessments and air sampling can be performed by industrial hygienists to identify exposure limits and provide guidance on control measures.
Welding fumes contain a variety of toxic chemicals and elements that are dangerous to inhale. These chemicals can irritate the eyes and skin, cause coughing, and lead to short-term health problems like weakness, headaches, fatigue and loss of coordination. In severe cases, chronic overexposure can even be fatal. Welding can also produce combustible dust, which can easily ignite and explode when exposed to air. To ensure workers’ safety, facilities should use an engineering control that can capture, convey and contain combustible dust to prevent explosions and fires.
To protect welders from combustible welding fumes, they should use an exhaust system with a high drafting capacity. This will ensure that the combustible particles don’t get trapped in the pipes, where they can serve as a fuse. Also, they should install a central dust collector to prevent combustible dust from spreading to other parts of the facility.
In most welding applications, welders can be confined within a hood that will contain the fumes before they enter the breathing zone. However, much of the manual welding for armored vehicles, ships and other military equipment requires an open environment, where welders can be exposed to a wide range of environmental hazards.
Source capture solutions can be used for both open or confined environments. For example, a portable hi-vac extractor can be hooked up to a welding torch and move with the welder throughout the facility. This option is ideal for high-production welding operations.