Welders’ safety boosted with new fume extraction installation

Custom lighting manufacturer Selux U.S. has added mobile source capture fume extraction units for each of its two welding stations.

Selux U.S, a Semperlux AG subsidiary based in the Hudson Valley Region of New York State manufactures and distributes interior and exterior lighting fixtures for projects throughout North America.

The company’s welders reported immediate improvements in energy levels and breathing ability, as well as reduced downtime, Miller reported.

"Our company is the sum total of the people who work here, and the more satisfied they are in their jobs, the better they perform," Selux production manager Randy Adams told Miller.

"A big part of that is providing a clean and healthy environment. It might sound corny, but we really consider ourselves family here, and we try to treat our employees like family. That means doing everything we can to protect their health."

The company has previously relied on tall ceilings and a nearby window fan to dilute and ventilate the fumes from the company’s two welding stations.

However, a growing recognition of the potential harm caused by welding fumes led the company to purchase two mobile source-capture fume extractors from Miller Electric.

The company said results were immediate and impressive. Selux’s two welders, Ralph Barton and Shawn Valentino both said they could breathe easier and felt better during and after work.

Further, the reduction in fumes increased their productivity by reducing the frequency that they needed to wipe away fume particles that stuck to the lens of their welding helmets.

“Employee downtime and absence have been reduced, they’re more motivated when they get to work and I can tell that they have more energy throughout the day, all of which translates into higher productivity," said Adams.

Adams revealed that he was at first hesitant about purchasing the fume extractors as they were a “sticker shock”. However he confessed that on seeing the benefits of the extractors on employee work practice and health, he was assured that it was a worthwhile investment

"We conducted an air quality test, and it showed a level of particulates present that we weren’t comfortable exposing our employees to on a daily basis," Adams said.

"At that point we decided to look into fume control systems for our welding operations."

Adams contacted his welding distributor, who recommended a mobile source capture device that uses a unique nanofiber to capture and remove over 95 percent of the welding particles from the air.

He tol Miller that by selecting a source capture device, the company was able to remove the welding fumes where they are created, thereby protecting all employees on the work floor.

Designed specifically for welding applications, the nanofiber filter is said to also be able to capture more of the sub-micron particles found in welding fumes than filters designed for general purpose filtration and adapted for welding applications.

The unit selected reportly has a minimal efficiency reporting value (MERV) of 15 and can remove up to 95% of fume particles between .3 and 1 micron – the size typically found in welding fumes.

The fume extractor is said to provide 875 cubic feet per minute air flow, which is rated at the hood, not the blower cabinet, to provide an accurate representation of the true airflow that can be expected.

Selux’s welding operations consist of a pulsed MIG welder and two TIG welders that are used primarily to weld cast and extruded aluminum assemblies. The company also welds mild and stainless steel, though to a lesser extent.