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Welding is a joining process in which metals, or sometimes plastics, are heated, melted and mixed to produce a joint with properties similar to those of the materials being joined.
There are three main components needed to create a weld. These are:
Other processes that join metals together include:
There are over 70 different welding processes. The type of welding process used is related to the specific application. The most common processes are:
Health hazards associated with welding, cutting, and brazing operations will depend on the composition and exposure level to welding fumes and gases, and to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Health risks include respiratory irritation, metal fume fever, lung cancer, skin cancer, damage to the nervous system, asphyxiation, and other health risks.
Safety hazards associated with these processes include burns, eye damage, electrical shock, cuts, injury to toes and fingers. Fires and explosions may also occur.
Many of these hazards can be controlled with elimination and substitution controls (e.g., eliminate need for welding or using a using lower fume-generating welding process), engineering controls (e.g., local exhaust ventilation), work practices (e.g., remove coatings before welding, and worker training), and personal protective equipment (PPE)(e.g., respiratory protection).
Risk assessments and occupational hygiene air sampling can be performed to determine health and safety risks and worker exposures, and to help identify the control measures that are needed.