Category Archives: Welding Safety

Tips for staying safe while welding.

New Year, New Welding Helmet?

You probably don’t really need a new welding helmet, but how could you resist this awesome helmet from Miller:

Miller Performance Series auto-darkening welding helmet  (MIL-256-165)

 

 

I just love the graphics on this helmet–but even more important is the safety it offers.  This is a solid helmet great for any welding application.  The inside of the helmet has adjustable headgear for improved fit and comfort, while the auto-darkening lens is powered by three independent sensors with a lens speed of 1/20,000 second and two replaceable lithium batteries that last up to 3,000 hours… This is the Performance Series Illusion Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet from Miller– part number MIL-256 165.

At Arc-Zone in addition to the  Miller welding helmets, you’ll find Jackson, and Huntsman welding helmets, from fixed shade to auto darkening to passive helmets.  And if you’re not sure which helmet is right for you, check out our Guide to Choosing Welding Helmets and Goggles (PDF), written by the technical experts at Arc-Zone.

If you’re not in the market for  a snazzy new welding helmet, keep in mind that you can give your current helmet a tune-up.  Arc-Zone carries replacement parts, from the lenses themselves to batteries  to the headgear assembly. You’ll find Miller welding helmet replacement parts online here–>  and Jackson welding helmet replacement parts here–>

PS:  if your finding your eyes are not what they used to be… did you know you can buy “cheater” lenses for your welding helmet?

Don’t shop, WELD!

With less than one day left before we’ll be sitting around the tree opening presents, if you’ve not finished your Christmas shopping, you may find yourself tempted to go the mall.  Don’t go!  Instead, wouldn’t you rather be welding?  There are tons of great gifts you can make to hand out, and you’ll be doing something you love, for someone you love!

We’ve heard from tons of fans who have welded gifts:  a stainless steel flower, a welding table, a Christmas Candelabra, belt buckles made with stainless tubing and TIG wire,  a fire pit, a barbecue pit, a horseshoe and wagon wheel bench…. The creativity of our fans is amazing!

Arc-Zone’s own Joanie (aka MIG Ryan) loves to weld gifts for her friends and family and wanted share some tips.

Joanie recommends a MIG welder.  “It’s quick and easy to set up for mild steel. And if you use scrap, most of the metal you’ll find is usually some type of steel.”

Joanie also loves her plasma cutter, “I call it my paintbrush for metal,” she says.  You could also use a die grinder with a flap disc to remove surface rust and welding slag to add another level of texture, basic hammering tools, chisels, vice grips, nippers, metal shears, a chop saw, and other metal hand tools to shape the metal you’re working with.

For any items that are going to be outside, cure items with clear acrylic.  “Once it’s out in the elements, different characteristics of the metal will emerge,” Joanie says.

1. Joanie’s favorite items to make as gifts usually involve using found objects or repurposing things.  “I take an old hand saw—most people throw them away—and I write a positive message like ‘Life’s a Journey. Have Fun’ on it and cut it out with my plasma cutter.  Joanie says these signs are perfect for the garden.

2. Joanie also likes to make heart signs—which also make great gifts. (pictured above)

3. Windchimes are another whimsical and easy to make gift with scrap metal, everything from bottle caps to broken down metal parts.  Joanie even adds rocks for a natural element and gears—whatever she has found laying around.

4. Picture frames made of scrap metal are always a popular item, especially if it includes a nice picture of you with your special friend!

5. My favorite of Joanie’s gift items are the garden critters.  They’re so wacky and fun.

Half mask welding respirator

Of course, like all of us here at Arc-Zone, Joanie say:  SAFETY FIRST!  Especially a  respirator and proper hand, ear and eye protection. “The Miller half mask respirator is AWESOME. I can’t tell you how much I love that,” she says. (pictured right)

Arc-Zone not only carries these, but a great line of welding safety gear—and even welding apparel sized and designed for women.

 

Women Welders are Hot! Here’s How We Beat The Summer Heat

Women welders are hot, and the truth is, everyone is hot.  This summer we’ve seen record-breaking temperatures across the United States.  But welders, working with a heated tool like a TIG/GTAW Torch or a MIG/GMAW Gun, wearing sleeves to protect from sparks and burns, and welding helmets to protect the eyes, have an increased vulnerability to heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.  And if you’re part of the crew repairing the pipeline, the electric grid, the bridge, etc, you can’t always choose to stay indoors in a nice cool air-conditioned environment.

The first step in protecting yourself from the effects of the heat is to take some precautions:

Work early in the day to avoid the worst heat

Wear cotton flame retardant welding clothing.  Cotton is lightweight and breathable and long sleeves can protect you not only from the errant spark, but from the sun as well.

Hydrate!  Always make sure you have plenty of water on hand. Drink before you start work and avoid caffeinated and/or carbonated drinks—caffeine dehydrates the body and carbonation can cause bloating which deters you from drinking enough water.

Replace electrolytes (lost by sweating) by drinking sports drinks or eating food.

Eat right! Choose foods rich in the fatty acids and minerals that promote a healthy endocrine system (the part of your body that regulates heat response). Good choices include leafy greens like collard greens, kale, seafood (salmon and tuna are good options) and nuts, olive oil, broccoli, kale. Some herbalists even suggest that certain herbs and spices such as pepper, turmeric, and ginger are good additions for hot weather eating.

Include fruits and vegetables naturally high in water content.  The obvious choice is watermelon, but don’t forget others like pineapple, cucumbers, apples, oranges, and tomatoes.

Take regular breaks in a shaded area.

 

Heat exhaustion, untreated, can lead to heat stroke–evidenced by high body temperature, rapid pulse, mental confusion, difficulty breathing, and potentially even seizure or coma.

If you do notice signs of exhaustion—such as nausea, dizziness, cramps, fatigue, weakness, headache—STOP what you are doing.  Find some shade, or a cool room, and drink some cold fluids.

The next step is to be sure you have the proper equipment.

Wear welding gloves with a lining that absorbs the sweat.

Invest in a Miller Heat Stress Coolbelt or a Miller Coolband Helmet Cooling System– the ultimate in high-tech heat relief from the experts at Miller.

Miller Coolbelt

The Coolbelt is like carrying your own personal cooling system wherever you go.  It connects to your Miller Arc Armor welding helmet and can lower the temperature inside your hood by up to 17 degrees Farenheit for extreme relief, and improved productivity.

The Miller Coolband system also connects to your Miller Arc Armor welding helmet and offers a fan system that can reduce under-the-hood temperatures by up to 8 degrees Farenheit.

Wear a Cushioned Welding Helmet Sweatband

Wear a welding cap or our favorite—the BSX FireRag FR Doo Rag

 Welding cap

For more information visit the Center for Disease Control page on heatstress,  and their Tips for maintaining personal safety in the heat.  Also, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Guide to Protecting Workers from the Effects of Heat (.pdf) and the OSHA Fact Sheet on Working Outdoors in Warm Climates (.pdf).

And always weld with a cool head!

 

Are you welding safely?

 

Most fabricators know the importance of safety.  After all, working with flames, fumes, electricity, molten metal, hot surfaces, chemicals, cables, and cords–not to mention sharp objects–can be dangerous if proper care is not taken.

June is national safety month, in case you missed it, but like many other months, June has had its fill of welding related accidents. Here’s a sampling:

At Arc-Zone we KNOW safety is important, and for that reason we take special care to include with every order the operations and safety guides you need to ensure everyone is properly trained on everything from the Arc-Time LTG Tungsten Grinder to the Smith Flow Meter.  Our easy-to-read operations guides are also available online in our Welding Safety section, in case you need to download another copy.  You’ll also find the MSDS sheets for tungsten electrodes  and other chemicals used in your weld shop.  AND, the most recent additions to our Welding Library includes technical focus papers on Choosing Welding Helmets (for protecting your eyes) and an Arc-Zone exclusive:  Eye Care for Welders.

Safety apparel is also integral to a worker’s well-being and when we discovered the AngelFire line of welding safety apparel for women, we were so excited that we updated our website right away, becoming  the first supplier to sell the  women’s welding gloves and the Flame Resistant Welding Jackets online.  (We sell men’s welding safety apparel too).  Proper fit is not just important for good looks, it’s important for safety as well.

Arc-Zone also carries Respiratory Safety equipment, heat stress products, safety glasses and  of course, welding helmets.

Another good source for safety information is the manufacturers’ websites.  Miller has fantastic safety information on their website, many of their safety sheets in other languages:  French, Spanish, Russian, German, and Italian to name a few, a reminder that welding is a global industry!

For more guidance on safety in the welding workplace, be sure to check out the American Welding Society’s Safety and Health Fact Sheets, and the National Safety Council’s Workplace Solution publications for information on everything from chemical safety to skin protection.

And if your workplace isn’t as safe as you think it should be…  the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) may be able to offer guidance.  You have the right to a safe workplace!

 

 

 

Is it safe to weld with a pacemaker?

We recently received a call at Arc-Zone.com HQ from a customer that wanted to know if there were any limitations to welding for individuals with a pacemaker or implanted defibrillator.  I had never thought about it before and I didn’t know the answer.  I decided to research it and share my findings with all of our readers and customers here on the blog.  Since this is an important issue that affects many men and women, we thought we’d post this blog both here and on the Joe Welder blog.

Conclusion and Disclaimer

Since this is a very serious medical issue and we are not very serious medical people, we will post the most important conclusion of this blog post right up front: consult your doctor!  Only your heart doctor can tell you what activities are dangerous, and how you should handle them.  Welding is an activity that is considered dangerous, so read up on the resources we provide below, do your own research, and most importantly, call your doc!  We provide resources and information that we’ve found in our research, but this is no replacement for your doctor’s expertise.  They didn’t spend years in medical school for nothing.

Electromagnetic Energy

The primary concern when welding with a pacemaker or defibrillator is the high electromagnetic (EM) energy created by the welding machine.  This electromagnetic energy can cause your pacemaker to continuously pace the heart, which can cause an irregular heart rate if your heart is already beating fine on its own.  On the other hand, the spike in EM energy when spot welding or starting a bead can cause a pacemaker to pause temporarily if it were pacing your heart.  Both of these situations are not good.  Implanted defibrillators could detect the EM energy from the welder as a fast heart rhythm, causing it to deliver shock (yikes!).

Interestingly, according to medtronic, the electromagnetic field created by a welding machine won’t cause any permanent damage or re-programming to your pacemaker or implanted defibrillator.  The primary concern is how these devices behave in the presence of the intense electromagnetic energy.  Any potential effects will end when the welding is stopped or turned off.

Another point to note is that Oxy-Fuel welding does not create an electromagnetic field, so it is safe to use with an implanted pacemaker or defibrillator.

How Can I Reduce The Risk?

Here’s a good list of precautions that we found from Medtronic:

  • Limit welding current to less than 120 amps
  • Work in a dry area with dry gloves and shoes
  • Maintain a 2 foot distance between the welding arc and the heart device
  • Keep the welding cables close together (twist them together if possible) and as far away as possible from your heart device
  • Place the welding machine as far away as possible, and at least 5 feet away from your work area
  • Wait several seconds between attempts when having difficulty starting a weld (don’t rapidly pulse the welder)
  • Work in an area that offers firm footing and plenty of room for movement
  • Work with an informed person that understands what you’re dealing with
  • Immediately stop welding and step away from the area if you start to feel lightheaded, dizzy, or you believe your implantable defibrillator has delivered a shock

Resources

AWS

Medtronic

American Heart Association

Pacemaker Club discussion on the topic

 

 

Save your digits – Carmen Electrode rates the 3 best gloves for female metal fabricators

As female fabricators, sometimes it seems like metal fabrication gear is not designed for us. Gloves, welding helmets, hats, and work clothing can be hard to find in the right sizes.  We’ve tried all of the women’s welding apparel to assemble this guide to the gear you need to get job done.  In this blog post we’ll focus on welding gloves for women.

Lesson 1: You only get one set of hands.  Whether you work with metal all day at your job or occasionally as a hobby, working with metal glove-free is a recipe for lost digits. When in doubt, wear gloves.

Lesson 2: Save your welding gloves for welding.  The nature of your work will determine the right gloves for the job.  Most welding gloves won’t provide the dexterity to do pre-fab, while most fabrication gloves won’t provide the heat protection for welding

Lesson 3: You get what you pay for.  Paying a few dollars more means the difference in buying new gloves once a month and once a year.

Now that we got that out of the way, here are our top picks in gloves for female fabricators.

 

For general pre-fab, project layout, metal grinding, de-slagging, etc.:

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: A glove that can stand up to sharp edges and grinders, and provide the dexterity to keep your work precise.

TOP PICK: Miller Metalworker Gloves and Heavy Duty metalworker gloves

  • Great all-purpose metalworking gloves
  • Leather and spandex construction offer a good balance durability and dexterity
  • Padded, reinforced palm and thumb saddle enhances comfort and extends wear
  • For a couple bucks more, get the heavy duty gloves for longer life and increased protection, especially in the knuckles
  • Not truly a product for women, as they’re only available in sizes M-XL, but we’ve used them and they’ll get the job done. Check the sizing guide to see if they’ll fit

 

For TIG welding and general metal fabrication for those with small hands:

Firefly TIG welding gloves

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: A glove that provides enough dexterity to control your torch and filler rod in all environments, but also

 

provides heat resistance.

TOP PICK: Firefly™ Women’s Premium Flame Resistant TIG Welding Gloves

  • Excellent dexterity for precise TIG welds
  • Drag patch and thermal lining for added protection
  • Available in sizes XS to XL
  • Top choice for the woman TIG welder

 

For MIG / stick welding:

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Extreme protection and durability without sacrificing comfort.

TOP PICK: UPDATED- We’ve just added the new Angel Fire Women’s Premium MIG Welding Gloves!

  • Fitted design just for women
  • Premium grain pig skin palm with side split cowhide back
  • Leather reinforcement on the palm
  • Padded drag patch for durability
  • Available in Sizes XS-XL
  • Top choice for the woman MIG welder

 

For all of these gloves, getting the right fit is imperative.  Make sure to check the glove sizing guide before ordering a pair.

Do you have gloves that you love? Let us know in comments.