On a construction site, welding is essential for the building process. It’s a specialized field that is incredibly dangerous as are many of the jobs associated with the construction industry. Workers have to be very careful and employers have to make sure they are doing all that’s required to keep their workers safe from harm. Unfortunately, not every employer is compliant and concerned about their workers. OSHA reports that out of every 250 construction workers on a job site, one of them will be killed from an accident while welding.
Types of Welding
There are four types of welding.
- Gas Metal Arc Welding
- Tungsten Inert Gas
- Stick Welding
- Acetylene Welding
All of these welding methods use gas, high temperatures and melting to join pieces of metal to each other. Arc welding is incredibly popular for construction since it’s suited for heavy metals. When new buildings are constructed, the frame and exterior of the structure have heavy metals that need to be welded together.
With the gas, high temperatures and electricity used to weld metal to each other, it’s easy to see how accidents can happen especially if safety procedures are violated or employers are giving workers faulty machinery.
Even when proper eyewear and protective clothing is worn, flying metal can pierce the protective wear and injure the worker. If it’s flying fast enough, it could penetrate the protective eyewear too.
Fire and Burns
The heat of welding is high enough that it can melt metals. An arc welder can create an arc temperature of 6500 degrees at the tip. This extreme heat can cause serious burns that would require hospitalization. Sparks fly from the point of contact, which can create fires if they fall onto cloth material.
Explosion and Chemicals
Gases and harmful chemicals are released to get the extreme temperatures required to soften and melt metals. Those gases can be released or explode during the welding process.
When there’s a deadline in the construction industry, workers might be required to work long hours when they’re already too tired. Fatigue can impact the safety of the workers and lead to accidents.
Injuries Sustained in a Welding Accident
- Burns, disfigurement and permanent scarring
- Poisoned from fumes
- Injury to the eyes
- Injuries resulting in death
Welding Safety and Precautions
Employers are supposed to provide safe work environments for their workers. This includes inspections and maintenance of the equipment the workers will be using. There should also be proper ventilation so welders are not inhaling toxic chemicals.
Workers who are not qualified should never be asked or expected to handle welding materials. Welders are trained and licensed in the correct handling of welding materials. Those who are not certified shouldn’t be handling the equipment.
There should always be a safe distance between the welder and the rest of the construction crew. Accidents can happen when construction workers are cramped into a space to perform their tasks.
You’re entitled to emergency medical care when you’ve been injured on the job. Heading to the emergency room for medical care shouldn’t require permission from your employer.
Some employers will also limit the amount of time that an injured worker needs to recover. This will limit the amount of money they’ll have to pay you in workman’s compensation or disability payments.
To protect yourself from an employer that didn’t execute proper safety procedures or didn’t maintain equipment properly, you should consult with an attorney. In some cases, an employer who doesn’t care about the safety of his workers will try to force you to come back to work when you’re not ready.
You could be entitled to compensation for your injury as well as medical benefits and lost wages if your employer’s negligence caused your injury. Talk to a lawyer as soon as possible before returning to work.