Structural steel is ubiquitous in the construction world, but not many people are aware that multiple fabrication processes are used to create it. Welding is one of the most important processes used in the fabrication of structural steel. It involves creating a final product by melting different steel parts together and allowing them to cool.
Because it involves using high heat to join steel parts, structural steel welding is an inherently dangerous job. Steel fabricators must put in place measures to ensure the safety of welders and other people working in their shops.
Exposure to welding fumes is a major hazard. Check out some of the best practices for minimizing indoor air quality risks during structural steel welding.
Using fume extraction systems.
As primary protection, steel fabrication shops should ensure proper ventilation in their facilities. The use of ventilation and fume extraction systems helps to maintain the desired room temperatures and to remove toxic fumes from the work environment.
There are a variety of systems for extracting fumes from work environments, thus creating a safe working environment for welders and other employees. These include:
Fabricators must make sure welders and other workers are clear of the exhaust ports of all fume extraction systems.
Understanding safety data sheets for welding consumables.
Different welding consumable products produce different kinds of toxic fumes. Before using any products, welders must read and understand safety data sheets for those products. This helps with safety control, as they can flag welding consumables that produce the most dangerous fumes.
Providing welders with respiratory protection.
Steel fabricators must provide welders with the proper respiratory protection to help protect them against toxic welding gases and fumes. This type of personal protective equipment should be used as a last resort and not the primary protection.
Respiratory protection should be used together with other types of PPE such as eye protection and skin protection.
Adopting a safety-first approach is essential to ensure a successful structural steel fabrication. The above-highlighted industry practices help to ensure the safety of workers on the shop floor, thus improving employee health and safety. Safe, healthy workers don't have to take days off from work to receive treatment and recover from their illnesses, which in turn makes them more productive. If you have a project that requires the use of structural steel parts or products, contact a steel fabrication company near you to discuss your needs.
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