Welding is the science of using heat to join two or more metals together. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) is the federal agency entrusted with the task of regulating this industry and its shop floor activities.
All welding shops must be properly ventilated, because the emission of toxic gases and fumes, especially at higher concentrations, is one key danger of welding. Breathing these chemicals in can pose a major health hazard to workers. Generally, welding shops must use mechanical ventilation if welding involves the use of specific materials in a space less than 10,000 cubic feet per welder. Lead, zinc, cadmium, beryllium, steel and compounds all have mechanical ventilation requirements at set levels. Even when mechanical ventilation is not mandated, all welding shops must have local exhaust ventilation. Do not use oxygen in ventilation.
You must provide specified goggles or glasses to employees who work in welding shops. Glasses with side shields and appropriate filter lenses are also permitted. You also have to provide transparent face shields, helmets and gloves made of noncorrosive materials that do not damage or discolor the skin.
OSHA also mandates the placement of certain signs in the welding shop. These must be in bold print and should contain a warning note and the nature of the metal being welded. For example, one sign might read, “WARNING—CONTAINS CADMIUM—POISONOUS FUMES MAY BE FORMED ON HEATING.”
First Aid Kits
You must have first aid kits in all welding shops. Kits should be easily accessible to workers.