To weld is to wield the power to make and destroy, but with that power, comes the risk of serious injury. When a welding accident happens, the result is usually a severe injury involving second or third degree burns, loss of eye-sight, severe respiratory problems, and even death. OSHA reports that welders have a high incidence of death, as they report four out of every thousand career welders will die due to a welding injury.
Most frequently, when a person is injured as a result of a welding accident, that person is on an automotive, marine, or construction job site, as those industries use welding more than others. When a person is injured on a jobsite, unless that person is self-employed, they will likely qualify for workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance employers are required to maintain for their employees to cover injuries that occur at work.
Burns to the Body
Because welding requires extremely high temperatures to melt metals, welders suffer from burns relatively often. While most often the burns are minor and considered part of the job, sometimes the burns can be severe. Additionally, due to the nature of the industries that use welding, burns are sometimes related to welding sparks catching something in a workshop on fire, such as a container of oil, or oil soaked rags.
Both arc welding and traditional welding carry significant fire hazards, along with significant risks of burn injuries not just to the employees who do the welding, but also to those that work in the surrounding areas. If a person is injured on a jobsite, even if they were not the ones welding, they may still have a workers’ compensation claim.
Other Welding Safety Hazards
In addition to risks of burn injuries, welders also face other risks involving electric shock, fumes and gasses, eye injuries, respiratory problems, and the possibility of hearing loss.
Welders who continue working for decades often find their eyesight deteriorating as a result of having to maintain focus on their work. When arc welding, as the electric current meets the metal, bright lights are emitted as the sparks fly. Prolonged exposure can cause injury to the eyes even over short periods of time, depending on an individual’s tolerance.
Another long-term exposure injury that welders are exposed to comes from the gasses emitted when melting metals together. As either arc or traditional welding heats metals until they become liquid and can be fused together, during the conversion from solid to liquid, gasses are released. These gasses can cause respiratory problems for welders if inhaled. Although welders wear protective masks, frequently the masks only provide limited UV protection and protection from the sparks, but not protection from the gasses.
Even if a person’s welding injury is a long exposure type injury, such as an injury to the eyes or respiratory system, they may still have a workers’ compensation claim even if they are no longer employed as a welder.