Dumbest Safety Mistakes You’ll Probably Make (And How to Avoid Them)

Man in Welding gear using a welder.

Take a moment to comprehend what welding is. You’re literally using electricity to heat metal hot enough to melt it. And while modern welding equipment is safer than the appliances in your kitchen (when used correctly), you might find yourself in a bit of trouble if you’re avoiding the necessary precautions. Most safety mistakes are easy to avoid when you know what to look for. Here are the dumbest safety mistakes you’ll probably make and how to prevent them from happening in the first place.

Man using Bright Welding Machine

It's So Bright:

What’s the most common injury among welders? Burns and electrocutions? Actually, it’s flashing your own eyeballs. If you’ve been flashed, you know how painful it can be. In fact, you’ll often hear stories about a welder watching TV with their spouse and the screen shows a worker about to strike an arc. The welder instinctively yells, “Cover your eyes” as they bury their face in their hands. We laugh about it, but it’s a habit most of us have learned for our own survival. If you’re welding, you always need to wear eye protection. Don’t ever think you can do a quick tack weld by closing your eyes and turning your head. It’s not worth it. Also, it shouldn’t need to be said, but just wearing sun glasses for protection won’t cut it.

If you’re using an auto-darkening helmet, keep your sensors in mind. Since you’ll often find yourself in unusual positions with automobile welding, you might accidentally cover the sensors on your auto-darkening helmet. If the sensors are covered, they’ll be unable to detect changes in the light. This means the next time you strike an arc, you’ll take it right in the retinas.

The best solution is to find a helmet with four sensors rather than two. For instance, Miller’s infinity helmets and Lincoln’s newest Viking series have four arc sensors. This virtually eliminates any chance of accidentally covering your sensors and getting flashed.

Metal Burning

Burn Baby, Burn:

Automobiles breed oily rags. If you’re not careful, they’ll overrun your garage. The problem arises when you’re concentrating on your weld, plus you’re already wearing a helmet that limits your peripherals. You don’t realize you’ve got a rag near your work area until you feel the heat as it catches fire. It happens. More than it should. We’ve seen videos where a rag catches fire. The welder panics and tries to run away with their helmet still covering their eyes causing them to go straight into a wall.

The simple solution is to put your rags away. That’s the plan anyways. Actually doing that is more difficult. Develop a system and force yourself to stick to it. If you’ve got a bucket, make yourself use it. After a few days, you’ll find you naturally throw your dirty rags where they should go. Just remember, one oily rag on fire is bad. If a whole pile of dirty rags that you were going to wash catches fire, that’s how garages burn down. It might be a good idea to set an alarm on your phone if you keep forgetting to wash your piles of dirty rags.

Take Cover:

If you find yourself underneath a car, on your back, welding upwards, you’ll soon learn the benefits of welding blankets or thick clothing. Molten metal follows gravity, and if you’re underneath your weld, that metal is coming for you.

The worst is watching a welder trying to work without gloves. Here’s the deal, you need at least 2 functional fingers on each hand to weld (preferably more). One slip without gloves and you could find yourself with a pretty nasty burn. Of course you probably won’t lose a finger immediately, but you might if that burn is bad enough to cause an infection. Even the highest quality gloves are fairly cheap, there’s no reason to take the risk.

Man welding in a tunnel

Breathe Easy:

A lot of automobile surfaces are covered with coating designed to protect the metal from moisture and other contaminants. When you remove these coats, either through welding or grinding, you’re releasing toxic chemicals into the air. For instance, stainless steel often uses a zinc coating that attacks a welder’s lungs, giving them flu-like symptoms. Unlike some industries, very few situations would ever require equipment as serious as a PAPR system . But most experts will insist on using a respirator under their mask. Also, make sure your work space is properly ventilated.

By being aware of your surroundings and following this simple advice, you’ll avoid most of the problems that could cause you or your garage to end up extra crispy. To get the best price on safety equipment from some of the biggest brands including Miller, Lincoln, ESAB and more, click the button below to visit Weld My Ride’s protective gear section.

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