7 Sep 2023

Why do you need eye protection for welding?
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Eye Protection when Welding

Welding is a crucial process used in various industries, including fabrication, construction and manufacturing. It involves the fusion of metal using intense heat, which generates a bright, intense light known as the welding arc. Whilst the welding process is essential, it poses significant risks to your eyes if the proper precautions are not taken. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of eye protection for welding and the potential consequences of failing to protect your eyes from welding light.

What happens if you weld without a mask?

Welding without a mask or appropriate eye protection significantly increases the risk of eye injuries and long-term damage to your health. Below are some of the most significant risks of welding without a mask.

1. Damage to the eyes

Inadequate eye protection exposes your eyes to intense welding light, causing burns, inflammation and cataracts. Repeated exposure to welding light without any protection can eventually lead to blindness, the most serious side effect. The most common side effect of welding without eye protection is arc eye, which we explain further below.

2. Exposure to radiation

Welding produces both ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) light, both of which are forms of radiation. Such radiation can increase your risk of skin cancer, which is why welders should be suitably protected whilst welding. 

3. Burns

Prolonged exposure to welding light can cause serious burns to your eyes, specifically to the dermis and the retina. Not to mention, the extreme heat produced by welding will inevitably cause damage to your face and eyes if not protected. 

4. Exposure to fumes

Welding emits lots of dangerous fumes, which can be very irritating to your eyes. Not to mention, they can cause serious respiratory problems too. You should protect yourself from the dangers of welding fumes by welding in a well-ventilated area and using the correct PPE

5. Flying particles

Welders should always wear eye protection such as goggles or safety glasses to prevent being injured by flying particles. A face shield makes a better solution for welders, as it protects their face and eyes from flying particles and slag.

What happens if you look at a welding light?

Looking directly at the welding light, even for a short period, can have detrimental effects on your eyes. The intense brightness can cause temporary vision loss, similar to staring at the sun. Moreover, exposure to the intense welding light can lead to a painful condition known as arc eye, which can cause temporary vision loss for those who look directly at a welding light. The main symptoms of arc eye are:

  • Sharp or stinging pain in the eyes
  • Bloodshot or red, irritated eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sandy or gritty feeling in the eyes

These symptoms usually develop within a few hours of unsafe contact with a welding light, and they can last for up to a few days. Arc eye is not a permanent condition, however, it is incredibly uncomfortable and can lead to more serious, long-term eye problems.

How long do you have to look at welding to get arc eye?

Arc eye can occur with even the briefest exposure to the UV and IR light emitted by the welding arc. The duration required to develop arc eye varies, but only a few seconds of unprotected exposure to the welding arc’s light can lead you to develop arc eye. 

Steps for protecting yourself and others when welding

The risks of welding without sufficient eye protection are significant, so it is important that employers and employees alike take the correct precautions when welding. Here are our top tips for doing so.

1. Wear sufficient eye protection

When welding, you should always wear appropriate eye protection, such as welding helmets or goggles specifically designed for welding. These should have lenses with the appropriate shade level to block the intense light and harmful radiation emitted during welding. Ensure that the eye protection you choose complies with safety standards and provides adequate coverage for your eyes and the surrounding areas.

2. Wear face shields

In addition to eye protection, consider using face shields or safety glasses with side shields to protect your face and eyes from sparks, debris, and other potential hazards associated with welding. These provide an extra layer of protection and help prevent injuries to the delicate tissues surrounding the eyes.

3. Maintain good ventilation

Industrial ventilation systems are essential in an environment where welding takes place. Providing welders with a well-ventilated area to work in will reduce the risk of health risks from welding fumes, keeping everyone safe. If an area is not properly ventilated in an area where welding occurs, people nearby may suffer throat irritation and even lung cancer and pneumonia when exposed regularly over a long period of time.

For more information about why good workplace ventilation is important, read seven interesting reasons in our post. 

4. Promote a safe workplace

It’s essential that everyone in the workplace knows about the importance of adequate eye protection, plus any other Health and Safety advice relevant to them. Try to promote a workplace culture that prioritises safety and encourages all employees to take precautions that keep themselves and their colleagues safe. 

At Airmatic, we prioritise safety above all else. From the best extraction solutions to bespoke fabrication products, everything we do is committed to the safety and productivity of your workplace. Get in touch with us today.

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