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Welders should take great care to ensure that both they and their co-workers are safe and avoid spreading dangerous welding fume throughout the facility. There are quite a number of guidelines one must adhere to in order for them and their colleagues to return home, safely, every day.
Most welding companies are aware of the health hazards associated with welding fumes. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) initially classified welding fumes as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” However, after more research, the agency has now re-classified the fumes from welding as a Class 1 carcinogen. This means the health of welders and their colleagues is at risk if they are not well protected in the workplace.
Fumes from the welding process contain two particularly hazardous elements:
Exceptionally fine metal particles that are released while welding. These microscopic particles are not individually visible to the human eye but can build up quickly and the risk of inhaling them is substantial. This metal dust contains any number of toxic metals, like lead, cadmium, iron, zinc, aluminium, nickel, tin and silver produced from the piece being welded and the welding consumables.
Potentially toxic gases originating from the heating of the metal combining with welding rods or wires. Some examples are carbon monoxide, hydrogen fluoride, ozone, and nitrogen. And others such as carbon dioxide and helium, two protective gasses that are integral to the welding process.
The danger of these fumes, when inhaled, are serious lung diseases and damage to the brain and the nervous system. Typical complications after long exposure to welding fumes are, according to IARC, various cancers, emphysema, kidney failure, lead poisoning and anaemia, Parkinsons like symptoms, metal fume fever, irritation of the nose, sinuses, throat and lungs, and asthma. the damage welding fume can cause can occur slowly without any outward signs.
Did you know that safe welding rules also help fight viruses?
Fortunately welders do not need to be exposed to the dangers of welding fume. There is a lot of protection available for welders so they can do their work safely. Every employer who values their welders provides all the necessary protection in the workplace both fixed and mobile, the best way of capturing welding fume is at source or local ventilation. With an extractor, you can capture the welding smoke at the source. That is the best way to protect the workplace and the workers. There are various kinds of extractors, including ones suitables for light, moderate or heavy duty. If the extractor arms are positioned well, according to the specific requirements of the workplace, the particles and welding smoke will be captured before it spreads to the local environment.
Picture: MonoGo, excellent starting point to provide protection against the exposure of welding fumes.
All the protective gear a welder or grinder may need, is available in our webshop. Each product has a clear explanation of how to use it and in which situation it works best. Plymovent offers welding fume extractors, which caters to every situation, both indoor and outdoor. Besides stationary extractors, there are portable and mobile extractors.
Each extractor unit effectively and efficiently catches the metal sparks and welding fumes using HEPA technology and high-efficiency IFA W3 rated filtration units. The mobile welding fume extractors:
Our stationary fume extractors have a filter that is available in numerous variants. The GoLine’s, MonoGo, for occasional welding; DualGo, with two extraction arms; and the ProLine’s, WallPro, a self-cleaning extractor for the professional. These welding fume extractors are one of the most prominent designed for light/medium duty work. All filters are perfect for places and workshops where there is not much floor space. These extractor units have a powerful fan, long life filters and lightweight extraction arms, which are easy to maneuver, ensure durability and impact resistance.
The Stationary Filter Disposable Single Use (SFD) and the Stationary Filter Self-Cleaning Ultra Single (SFS), are the most prominent, designed for medium/heavy duty work. Both filters are perfect for places and workshops where there is not much floor space. These extractor units have a Fan-28 and a UltraFlex-4 arm. This arm is made of lightweight polymers, which ensure durability and impact resistance. In addition, the UltraFlex-4 arm is easy to maneuver.
The SFD model is a mechanical system without any electric component. It is built around a DuraFilter system and gives you a simple yet effective and economical solution for filtering dry welding fumes. The built-in pollution indicator allows you to check if there is sufficient fume extraction or whether it is time to change the filter.
Our SFS model is fitted with a RoboClean system and has a large 30m² filter. This SFS model is a specialty in the self-cleaning filter market; it is automatically initiated and gives a deep, powerful blast of air that goes through every section of the filter. With that gush of air it cleans the filter thoroughly. The result is lower energy costs and a more consistent extraction of welding fumes, which is much safer for the welder.
Apart from these two models, there are a number of filters that could be just what you need: SCS, a central filter in the metalworking industry; MDB Compact, where the filter needs to be near the source; MDB, a modular cartridge system for heavy duty applications; and MDB-2/HV Pro, to capture welding fumes right at the source, meant for heavy duty welding.
With extraction arms like the UltraFlex-4, for instance, you can catch the fumes directly at the source. That is exactly what is needed to make the workplace as safe as possible. We have a large assortment of extraction arms with metal, plastic and hose tubes. The distance the arms can reach varies. They can be placed on rails for an almost unlimited reach or be used on an extension boom if there is the occasional need for extra reach. Plymovent has a great choice of extraction arms and special parts that fit the arms.
Our mobile fume extractors have a filter that is available in numerous variants. The MobileGo, an entry level extractor for the welding; MobilePro, for professional welders that need a flexible solution; MFD, extractor with disposable filter; MFS, extractor with self-cleaning filter; MFE, extractor with electrostatic filter; and the PHV, portable high-vacuum dust and fume filter/collector. All mobile units provide increased flexibility. Welding at various workplaces and locations made possible, where a fixed or stationary installation cannot operate.
The MobileGo is a compact and powerful mobile fume extractor, available in 2 versions and ideal for auto repair shops, welding schools, small workshops and the agricultural sector. The fume extractor is always combined with an extraction arm. The arms are available in 2 and 3 meter length, depending on the size of your workpiece and navigation through your workshop. Both MobileGo extractors have an acoustic ‘filter full’ alarm and an integrated spark deflection plate for enhanced safety. The units also have a service indicator that shows when the filter needs to be replaced.
The PHV is a high-vacuum portable unit the size of a vacuum cleaner. It can be used everywhere, even locations that are not or hardly accessible to stationary and larger mobile units.
No matter how well the workplace or the outdoor welding environment is protected, every welder needs their own personal protection as well. Throughout the years, protection has become more sophisticated. Plymovent is a serious player in the professional helmet market with PersonalPro helmets for welding, grinding, and cutting work. There are two kinds of helmets: the Welding & Grinding helmet and the Cutting & Grinding helmet.
The Welding & Grinding helmet is the result of the latest developments in welding protection. It has a hinged mask with a permanent visor and a 160° view thanks to the two side windows. The helmet makes it possible to constantly check the welding result without flipping the mask up and down all the time. Thus, the face of the welder is perfectly protected against any welding fumes. Switching between welding and grinding is easy. The helmet meets three European standards: EN 166 B, EN 175 B and EN 379.
The powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) ensures the welder has fresh air while working. The respirator has two speeds: standard and higher. Depending on the welder’s habits, the area where they are working, and the application, one of these two speeds can be selected using a large button. The filter in the motor unit is classified as PRSL TH2 (reusable solid and liquid particles).
The lithium battery for the motor is chargeable, gives 10 hours of power and has the lowest possible weight. The Welding & Grinding helmets with a PAPR unit come with a storage bag and an air hose as standard. Other accessories are available. The PAPR unit gives a signal when the battery is almost used up or the filter is full.
The Plymovent PersonalPro welding helmet is suitable for electrode, MIG/MAG and TIG welding, as well as for grinding work.
The Cutting & Grinding helmet provides the best protection against cutting and grinding, as well as the fumes and dust contamination that comes with it. These helmets are stylish, comfortable and offer an optimal fit. Wearing a helmet like this makes the work environment safer and more productive.
This helmet offers face protection compliant with EN 12941:1998 and EN 175 B standards. The helmet weighs just 328 grams and has an adjustable headband and a large visor. Like the other helmet described above, it comes with a PAPR unit to supply the worker with fresh air throughout the job. The PAPR unit for the Cutting & Grinding helmet works exactly the same as the one described a few paragraphs up.
The Plymovent downdraft and backdraft table offers optimal working comfort as it combines a welding table, an extraction system and a filtration system. This compact table can be placed anywhere—for instance, at a ductwork job or in a welding booth. Welding, plasma cutting and grinding can all be done at this table.
Fumes and dust are removed by the extractor in the table to keep the welder’s breathing area safe. We recommend the backdraft kit if the table is used for welding and/or grinding, as the welding fumes need to be tackled by a combination of downdraft and backdraft. There are two types of downdraft and backdraft tables:
The DraftMax Eco, which is suitable for ductwork. This workbench has an integrated spark arrester but no filter cartridges. The bench can be extended with an optional backdraft for fast-rising fumes.
The DraftMax has a built-in spark arrester to prevent the tiny particles from going into the filter cartridges. Placed underneath the working surface of the downdraft table, it gives the worker an optimal and safe working area. Replacing filters and cleaning out the dustbin is extremely easy to do. The two filters span a 52m² working surface. This results in a longer life for the filters, meaning less maintenance and lower costs associated with operating the bench.
The Draftmax has two plug-and-play models: the Draftmax Basic for light to moderate work. In this model, the filter is efficient and the operational costs are low. The DraftMax Ultra, however, has a self-cleaning filter system. That means constant and efficient filtering. The cleaning of the cartridges must be done manually. This bench is very suitable for intensive use.
It cannot be emphasised enough how important good personal and workplace protection is for every welder and grinder. Most Departments of Labour worldwide have safety rules for all types of work, including, of course, welding. The United States of America, for instance, have the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that has an informative fact sheet on welding health hazards and protective rules and regulations that apply in the States. In the UK, it is the government agency HSE (the Health and Safety Executive) that is responsible for regulation, encouragement and enforcement of health, safety and welfare in the workplace. It is also this agency that does research occupational risks in Great Britain.
Complying with these rules or those from your own government protect you from legal liability should health accidents occur. They also give you a clear conscience, since you are taking care of your employees or co-workers as much as possible. Fume extraction at the source is the best practice in this industry, with personal protection as the runner-up.
One cannot simply hope for safety when it comes to inhaling hazardous fumes, nor can a welding job be done “between lunch and dinner”. No matter how small the welding job, the welder must always make sure to capture the welding fumes at the source—for their own sake, for their co-workers’ sake and for the sake of the company.
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