Whether you do it as a hobby or for work, welding is a process that can be effectively used to construct a wide array of structures, from tables to skyscrapers and many more. Welding is useful, but it can also be dangerous if you don’t have the proper knowledge and safety equipment to combat common hazards. One of the results of reckless welding is eye injuries, but luckily, preventing these injuries is easier than you might think. Use the list below to learn the basics of how welding can hurt your eyes and ways you can prevent that from happening.
In the welding industry, “flashing” is an occurrence in which a welder looks at UV or infrared radiation without eye protection. You may also hear this injury frequently referred to as “welder’s flash” or “flash burn.”
Many different welding methods exist, but most of them share a key trait; they produce ultraviolet and infrared radiation. Exposing the naked eye to UV and infrared radiation can lead to many issues—swelling, watering, soreness, and blurry vision are just a few of the symptoms you’ll encounter after experiencing welder’s flash.
Aside from producing harmful radiation, many welding methods can result in hot, molten metal debris flying from the workpiece and causing significant eye damage. Some welding methods produce more spatter than others, but any hot debris flying into your eyes is a bad thing.
That said, harmful debris can enter a welder’s eyes both before and after welds. For example, welding typically involves having to clean your workpiece beforehand. Method of cleaning base metals include sandpaper and angle grinders with flap disk attachments. These tools are certainly useful, but if you don’t have proper eye protection, using them can send harmful debris right into your eyes. Likewise, any cutting you have to do the workpiece can send small but harmful debris in the air, so this process requires eye protection too.
Protecting Your Eyes
Now that you have a solid grasp of how welding can hurt your eyes, let’s address something equally important—how to avoid hurting your eyes in the field. To protect their eyes while working, welders wear specialized welding helmets with safety goggles underneath. These essential forms of PPE allow welders to see their weld without compromising their health and safety. Before buying one yourself, it’s important to know the ways auto-darkening and passive welding helmets differ.
Each of these helmets has its place in your toolkit, but understanding when and why to use each one is crucial to safety during your welds. Anyone near a welding workstation should have welding PPE at all times. This is because the reflections of UV/infrared radiation, or seeing them from a distance, can still result in flash burns.