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This profile summarizes the common issues and duties for welders. Welders can work at a wide variety of types of workplaces. Because each workplace is unique, there is no way to predict all of the possible hazards you may encounter. This summary focuses on the major job duties that most welders would have in common.
Welders use specialized equipment to "weld" or join together metals. They will also cut or trim metal objects. There are many different types of welding including:
Many will also solder and grind materials. Flame cutting equipment, and various metal shaping machines (shears, straighteners, bending machines) may also be used.
Welders need to know how to prepare the metal for welding or cutting. They need to know which type of welding to do, how to use their equipment safely, how to follow work procedures, and what procedures to use for quality control.
Welders can work in places that manufacture structural steel, boilers, heavy machinery, air crafts, and ships. They also work in many industrial sectors such as automotive, oil and gas, manufacturing, forestry, mining, construction, etc.
Welding can create fumes which are a complex mixture of metallic oxides, silicates and fluorides. Fumes are formed when metal or other materials such as flux or solvents are heated above its boiling point and its vapours condense into very fine particles (solid particulates). Welding fumes normally contain oxides of the materials being welded and of the electrodes being used. If the metal has a coating or paint, these too can decompose with the heat and become part of the fumes. Care should be taken when working near these fumes as health effects can be both immediate, or occur at a later time.
Welders also often work with and around:
Many injuries to welders are the result of strains, sprains and work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs). Welders often have to:
See OSH Answers document on Welding - Ergonomics for more information.
Welders can be exposed to:
Welding arcs and flames can emit intense visible (VIS), ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) radiation. Gamma- or X-rays can be emitted by inspection equipment or welding machines. Skin and eye damage such as "welder's eye" or cataracts can result in certain types of radiation.
Welders often have to work:
Other safety hazards include:
According to the International Labour Office (ILO), welders are at increased risk of:
(Sources: Welder. International Hazard Datasheets on Occupations (HDO), International Labour Office; and Hansen, et al (2017). "Carcinogenicity of welding, molybdenum trioxide, and indium tin oxide" the Lancet, Vol.18)
Welders will need to know:
All workers should:
Because of the wide variety of workplaces where welding may occur, and the vast range of materials used by welders, all situations cannot be covered in this document.
NOTE: If you have health concerns, ask your doctor or medical professional for advice.
If you have any questions or concerns about your specific workplace, you can ask one or more of the following for help:
General information is available in OSH Answers or through the CCOHS person-to-person Inquiries Service.