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Hazardous Jobs

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If you are a welder, chances are you are a little familiar with some of the hazards that come with the job. Harmful fumes, loud noises, intense heat, and glaring light are things you deal with on a daily basis. It is important to take the proper precautions and know the content of the welding rods in order to protect your health.

One of the biggest risks to your health in the welding profession is the fumes released during the welding of manganese. Inhaling these fumes can cause extensive damage to your brain and nervous system. Many welders exposed to fumes on the job suffer from Parkinson’s disease or “manganism” which is similar to Parkinson’s and affects movement and balance causing tremors, shaking, and loss of muscle control.

There are laws in place to protect welders from these fumes, but they may not be enough of a safeguard. Iron oxide may be released in welding fumes when the rod or base consists of iron or mild steel. Breathing in these fumes can cause irritation to your nasal passages, throat, and lungs. If you are working with stainless steel, the fumes may contain nickel and chromium, which can aggravate asthma and cause other sinus problems or even cancer. Chromium brings to mind the 1993 case against PG&E in which Erin Brokovich was instrumental. The case was settled in 1996 for $333 million, making it the largest settlement ever paid in a direct-action lawsuit in US history.

As if fumes released from metals being welded are not enough to worry about, there are coatings and paints that may be harmful. Cadmium is used to coat steel and prevent rust, but the fumes released when welded can cause lung disease, emphysema, and kidney failure. Metals that have been painted with paint containing lead can release lead oxide when welded. Lead poisoning can cause you to become weak and develop anemia and harm your nervous system, kidneys, and even your reproductive system.

Some rods are coated with asbestos, if you inhale asbestos dust released in the air, you can develop serious diseases, such as, lung cancer, mesothelioma, or asbestosis, which is scarring of the lungs.

Arc welding uses ultraviolet light and can be deadly if done near solvents containing chlorinated hydrocarbons. The ultraviolet light can react with the solvents and form phosgene gas, which can be deadly in even small amounts. Do not arc weld near any type of degreasing equipment or solvents. Take every precaution necessary to keep yourself safe.

Always wear proper eye protection and face shields. Otherwise you could damage your cornea, which can cause blurred vision and even burning sensations in your eyes. Noise levels in the work place are also regulated by law. Do not risk the development of hearing loss, if you think the noise level is too high, speak to human resources or your local government.

Every job comes with some type of “hazard” even if it’s the potential hazard of chipping a fresh manicure. Some jobs have a much higher risk factor and welding is one of them. Educate yourself, ask questions, know the potential dangers and the content of materials you will be working with. This could keep you from developing life altering diseases and conditions and may even save your life.

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