MANY people describe electric arc welding as a dangerous activity. It doesn’t have to be this way. Providing all circumstances and components of the welding process are properly considered, electric arc welding can be performed safely.
The most important aspects to consider are:
n Choosing the right equipment for the job
n The proper maintenance of equipment
n Sound work practices
The Welding Technology Institute of Australia has published technical note 22 Welding Electrical Safety that covers all safety aspects of arc welding. This document, together with the operating manual of equipment, should form the basis of all training and information sessions.
Equipment should be designed and manufactured to conform to the requirements of the International and Australian standards (IEC 60974 or AS 60974).
This standard has superseded the AS 1966 parts 1, 2 and 3 and covers:
n The machine
n The input cable and plug requirements (most commonly overlooked)
n Markings that forms part of the machine
If power sources are additionally fitted with a Voltage Reduction Device (VRD) it must conform to the requirements of AS 1674.2.
Fitting a VRD to a welding machine does add to the safety of the machine, particularly in adverse welding conditions, but does not serve as a substitute for good safe welding practice.
Up to date maintenance of equipment is a necessary step to ensure that the equipment works both safely and effectively.
The WTIA guidance note 7 recommends a daily inspection of the welding machine and using a pre-start checklist before the equipment is turned on.
Although equipment suppliers ensure that their products are safe it is still the obligation of the end user to ensure that safe and proper welding practices are followed. Finally, appropriate personal protective clothing should always be worn when conducting any kind of welding.
*Nic Bothma is Technical Manager Industrial Products at BOC. For more information on welding products or safety equipment call BOC on 131 262.