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The chart below summarizes the types of personal protective equipment that can be used when welding.
|Welding - Personal Protective Equipment|
|Eyes and face||Welding helmet, hand shield, or goggles||Protects from: |
|Lungs (breathing)||Respirators||Protects against: |
|Exposed skin (other than feet, hands, and head)||Fire/Flame resistant clothing and aprons||Protects against: |
|Ears - hearing||Ear muffs, ear plugs||Protects against: |
|Feet and hands||Boots, gloves||Protects against: |
Eye injury can occur from the intense light and radiation that a welding arc can produce. Eye injury can also occur from hot slag and other metal debris that can fly off from the weld during cooling, chipping or grinding.
The various types of eye protection are broken down into classes in the CSA standard Z94.3-15 "Eye and face protectors”. Each class is designed for a specific use. Eye and face protectors should have distinctive markings to identify the manufacturer and their class. Classifications of common protectors for welding operations are listed below:
The following operations require full face protection by using either a welding helmet or a hand shield:
For gas cutting, welding, or brazing, the intensity of the light is much less than from arc welding, cutting or gouging processes. Lighter shade filter lenses can be used with goggles in place of a helmet.
More information can be found in the OSH Answers on Eye and Face Protectors.
Hand shields or helmets provide eye protection by using an assembly of components:
For Arc welding, the correct filter shade is selected according to the welding process, wire diameter, and operating current. The table below gives the correct shade numbers for different situations.
The recommended shade numbers for oxygen cutting are shown in the table below.
The CSA Standard W117.2 states that contact lenses should not be worn by welders and welding personnel because foreign bodies (objects) in the eye can cause excessive irritation. Contact lenses do not provide protection from ultraviolet radiation and flying objects. All workers in proximity to welding procedures must wear appropriate eye protection according to the circumstances. The OSH Answers document Contact Lenses at Work discusses how dust particles or chemicals can irritate the eyes.
Note that in Canada, Prince Edward Island's Occupational Health and Safety Act General Regulations Section 45.11 specifically bans wearing contact lenses while welding.
Respiratory protection is needed when ventilation is not sufficient to remove welding fumes or when there is risk of oxygen deficiency. Select and use respirators in compliance with applicable regulations. Seek expert advice, conduct a hazard assessment, and initiate an appropriate respiratory protection program.
For more information on selecting the appropriate respirators, see the OSH Answers on Respirator Selection.
The process of selecting appropriate respiratory protection is also outlined in CSA standard Z94.4 and ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standard Z88.2 "Respiratory Protection".