Welders Face Many Safety Hazards on NYC Construction Sites
Welders are crucial to every major construction site project. They’re kept busy using intense heat sources while welding together many different types of parts during all phases of erecting or renovating a building. Although many of their most exacting tasks must be handled in confined spaces, welders must also be prepared to take their tools outdoors to work on scaffolding or different levels of buildings under construction.
Besides using their hands, welders often use various tools and machines to weld parts together. They also sometimes need to repair parts that require stronger metal seams — or that have holes or indentations that must be filled in to make them stronger. During most of their work days, welders must often carefully monitor the heat sources they’re using to be sure they don’t become too hot or toss of sparks that can cause a fire.
Welders need to be quite strong since they must often weld large parts together. They must also be able to climb up high and help lift newly welded parts so they’ll fit together properly with other parts already attached to a building.
To better understand many of the unique dangers that New York City construction site welders face each day, it’s helpful to begin by describing some of the different types of personal protective equipment they must wear while handling various tasks.
Welders must be ready to wear unique protective gear each day
- Welding helmets, goggles, hand shields (or heavy-duty gloves) are required. Weldersneed to protect themselves against the intense light they must work under (or that their tools often produce). In some cases, they also need protection from flying sparks, radiation, debris and potential chemical burns. Hot substances like “slag” can also fly out and burn welders if their bodies aren’t properly clothed or covered;
- Protective facial masks like respirators are often needed. While welding different metallic substances, welders are often exposed to highly toxic gases and other substances that can greatly impair breathing and permanently damage their lungs;
- Flame resistant clothing. Just as slacks should not have cuffs at the bottom, the same is true of shirts – they should never be rolled up since sparks can become embedded there and seriously burn a welder. It’s often safest for welders to wear properly coated (flame resistant) protective aprons while working. Even shirt pockets should be taped shut to prevent flying sparks from falling inside and starting to burn before the welder feels the injury;
- Fire-resistant boots. In addition to protecting welders against burns, this type of protective gear can also protect workers against heat and electric shocks;
- Ear plugs and sometimes full-size ear muffs must be worn over the head. Since welding can require the use of loud machinery, fire-resistant ear muffs may be needed when there’s any chance that sparks may fly out and hit the welder.
Although all this personal protective clothing and equipment is very useful, welders on construction sites must constantly strive to protect themselves against many other hazards.
Various dangers — not always apparent — facing welders on construction sites
- Flash burns. Even when a welder is carefully trying to avoid looking straight into any welding arc, his (or her) eyes can suffer severe damage. Flash burns are caused by the ultraviolet light created by a welding arc. This type of burn to the eyes is sometimes compared to what happens to a person’s skin after sitting out in the sun too long. This damage can even occur or harm someone working near the welder – all it takes is for the UV light to reach the welder or nearby person’s eyes. Other workers should never try to visit with a welder who’s busy working. Although a bit different, retinal burns can also prove very damaging;
- Musculoskeletal injuries. Frequently, welders must handle their tasks standing or sitting in rather uncomfortable positions for long timeframes. Shoulder pain, tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, knee joint issues and an overall reduction of muscle strength can occur over long time periods. In some situations, welding requires heavy lifting and can require the welder to contort his body to reach metal parts that need to be joined together.
Adequate work breaks are crucial – and whenever possible, welders should avoid accepting overtime shifts;
- Respiratory problems. Welders must constantly work with intensive heat that releases a wide variety of substances in the air. These can include arsenic, asbestos, chromium, cobalt and many other substances. Great care must be taken to protect themselves from inhaling these harmful materials;
- Accidents caused while using dangerous machinery. On many days, welders must use heavy machinery that can seriously damage their hands or fingers, especially when machine guards fail. Amputations may become necessary;
- Electric shocks. If a welder accidentally touches two metal objects that have any voltage between them, a serious or even fatal shock can occur. Although most such shocks involve minor voltage, far more deadly ones can sometimes occur;
- Explosions and fires. If any flammable materials are near where a welder is working, a large welding arc can release fast-moving sparks that can start a fire or even cause an explosion.
If you’ve been seriously injured due to another person’s negligence while working as a welder (or doing any other type of work) on a construction site, you need to contact our New York City construction accident law firm. We have the experience required to fully protect your legal rights while investigating your claim. Once we accept your case, we’ll fight hard to win the maximum compensation available so you’ll be properly reimbursed for all your pain and suffering, lost earnings, medical expenses and other losses.