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Helmets and Welding Protection
One of the most important aspects of the welding profession is ensuring that work environments are not only productive, but safe. To guarantee these secure surroundings, it first starts with the individual welder and their personal protection.
Head & Face
Starting at the top, one of the most vital pieces of welding safety apparel is the helmet. Probably one of the most recognized symbols of the welding industry, the helmet actually replaced the welding mask years ago, which, in turn allowed the freeing up of the hand from holding the mask. Today, there are an extensive offering of helmets to choose from, usually equipped with fixed or adjustable dark windows, or automatic darkening, light screens to absorb the harmful visual and ultraviolet radiation.
As helmets do not provide unlimited eye, ear and face protection, it is highly recommended that impact resistant safety goggles and ear protection be used in conjunction with the welding helmet.
Hand & Body
In order to be protected from dangerous occurrences of Arc flash hazards, head-to-toe; flame-resistant clothing is a must. The available clothing types range from aprons, bib overalls and cap sleeves to hoods, jackets and pants. It is also necessary to acquire clothing to withstand cold and wet weather as well as protect against chemical exposure.
Like the helmet, gloves are an essential safety accessory in the welding industry. There are many different types of gloves to choose from and, in general, a strong, heat and scratch resistant leather glove is a safe bet.
Since welding can produce a variety of harmful fumes and gases that are extremely dangerous if inhaled, respirators are an integral safety component in this line of work. The filters in the welding respirator prevent the destructive gases from being inhaled by the welder, thereby protecting them against poisoning and toxic contamination. Depending on the type of welding that is required, there are several types of respirators to choose from. For instance, a PAPR (Powered air purifying respirator) uses a motorized air pump that sends air through a filter prior to sending the clean air to the welder; whereas, a disposable respirator filters out dangerous gasses when worn over the nose and mouth and resembles a surgeon’s mask.
As welders work in extreme temperatures (mostly hot ones), it is vital to be prepared with helmet cooling accessories to manage and reduce heat stress. Several newer products out in the market today integrate with most industry helmets and can reduce temperatures underneath the hood up to 17 degrees F.