Six Myth-Busting Facts about the Welding Industry
By Alexandra Serban
August 16, 2019
The welding industry has been unwillingly subjected to a few fictions, falsehoods and fabrications throughout the years. We’re here to set the record straight with some myth-busting facts about the state of the labor market, the hazards welders face, and the necessary equipment needed to stay protected on the job.
1. Robots do all the welding these days.
While robots may play a large part in automated car building, real welders are not being replaced – by a large shot. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there are currently over half a million welders working throughout the US. Moreover, the employment of welders, and those in similar professions is expected to grow 6 percent by 2026.
2. All welding helmets are the same.
While most helmets offer the same level of protection (rated by ANSI, EN, CE and CSA), the quality of the optics and the brightness of the resting shade level is what sets them apart. In fact, there are various welding helmet options – with passive or auto-darkening lens, fixed or variable shades, with multiple sensors, or different viewing sizes. Selecting the right welding helmet for the job starts with a look at the latest industry standards. In the US, the American National Standards Institute ensures that helmets and lenses survive impact from flying objects, provide 100% ultraviolet and infrared filter protection, regardless of shade setting, and meet advertised switching speeds and darkness shades.
3. Welders lose touch when wearing gloves.
Oftentimes, it can be difficult to adjust your helmet’s settings while you’re wearing it, particularly with other safety equipment on. Fortunately, intelligently designed welding systems, like the Honeywell North Primair PA800 series, provide workers with large external controls to reduce or increase their lens darkness seamlessly – even while wearing gloves. This ability to make fine setting adjustments without taking off the welding helmet translates to zero compromise on speed and efficiency on the job.
4. Welders don’t work in toxic environments.
Far from it. Welding, cutting and brazing produce bright sparks and splatter that can cause burns, eye damage and electrical shock – hazards that lend themselves to the appropriate eye, hand, skin and body protection. However, truth is that welders can also be exposed to fumes and other hazards that can cause serious respiratory illnesses. In these cases, National Institute of Safety and Health (NIOSH) requires welders to use respiratory protection against airborne contaminants on the job.
5. All welding respirators are the same.
Selecting the right welding respirator is no different from selecting any other respirator. It requires an assessment of the hazards and the capability of the equipment to protect the worker. Make sure you choose a welding respirator with a sufficient assigned protection factor (APF), based on your application.
Most welding respirators have an APF of 25. However, APF is not the only factor worth considering when choosing equipment. Respirators are only effective if they are worn correctly any time the worker is exposed to hazards. Some welding respirators, like the Honeywell North Primair PA800 series, are carefully designed to eliminate the need to adjust or remove the helmet when in use, thereby helping to maintain integrity of the fit with the worker’s face.
Protecting welders from potential respiratory risks and hazards is more than just handing out a respirator. It’s a great responsibility.
A respiratory protection program will help identify the hazards present in the environment, assess risk levels, select the right type of equipment, and focus on user fitness for wearing a respirator, training, fit testing, acceptance and proper use. When done effectively, welders can put worry behind them and focus on the job at hand.
6. Welders wearing a respirator must be clean-shaven.
If you wear a tight-fitting facepiece, those whiskers can interfere with the seal between the face and the mask. However, respiratory headpieces that use positive pressure like loose-fitting hoods and welding helmets to force out contaminates can protect workers, even if they have some facial hair.
Interested in learning more about respiratory protection for welders? Check out our resources, here.