Aluminium is the earth’s most abundant metallic element and is also valued for being lightweight, easy to work with, and versatile. However, as CHARNAUD® explains, it can present a number of hazards when it is being welded. These hazards must be noted and protected against.
The Particular Hazards of Welding Aluminium
Welding has several hazards, regardless of what metal is used. There is always a risk of burns or ocular damage if a welder is not properly protected. With aluminium, however, there are additional health risks relating to the fumes produced while welding, as well as some hazards arising from the very nature of aluminium, compared to those of steel. Here are the hazards you need to be aware of.
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Aluminium welding is primarily done using the metal inert gas method (MIG). Heat is applied to the aluminium, which then facilitates oxidation. Aluminium oxide particles form and mix with the welding fumes. The fumes consist of magnesium oxide and aluminium oxide, both of which are lung irritants. If welders inhale these fumes, aluminium compounds form in the lungs. These deposits cause aluminosis, bronchitis and a condition known as aluminium lung. These conditions can cause irreversible damage. The contact between ultra-violet rays and oxygen leads to the formation of ozone, which can be carcinogenic when inhaled.
Considering the risk of inhaling dangerous compounds when welding aluminium, it is crucial for welders to wear respiratory protection in addition to their other protective gear.
Every welder knows that burns are a significant risk in their jobs. There is a slightly increased risk of this with aluminium, because it is not always apparent that the metal is hot and unfit to be touched. Aluminium does not change colour when heated, like steel does, so it is more difficult to discern cold metal from hot. Aluminium is also a better conductor of heat than steel is, so it can get very hot without showing any visible sign of heating. It is always best to equip welders with head-to-foot protection, such as our ALU-SAFE® or METAL-SAFE® ranges.
Come To CHARNAUD® To Get the Perfect Safety Footwear For Your Workplace
CHARNAUD® is a supplier of quality PPE for a variety of professions. We can help equip your welding staff for their daily duties and risks and ensure that they are all fitted with the correct gear to keep them safe and prevent injury. Contact us for advice and quotations on PPE for your business.
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