NASD: Welding Safety on the Farm

Bulletin 2320
Maine Farm Safety
by Dawna L. Cyr, farm safety project assistant, and Steven B. Johnson, Ph.D., Extension crops specialist
Welding Safety on the Farm
he employer must provide the
proper personal protective
equipment needed for welding
jobs on the farm. Fire-resistant
gauntlet gloves, aprons, coveralls,
leggings and boots are the basics
needed. Welding helmets, respirators,
ultraviolet radiation filter plates for arc
welding, and goggles with filter lenses
are a must.
Maintain, store, inspect, clean and
evaluate respirators routinely. Make
sure everyone using them has been fittested. Workers doing overhead
welding should be provided with fireresistant shoulder covers, head covers
and ear covers. When welding highly
toxic materials, provide work uniforms,
coveralls or full body coverings. There
should be lockers or separate areas to
store or change into street clothing.
Collect all welding clothing, and
launder it properly.
All protective clothing should be
routinely inspected and maintained.
Keep clothes free of grease and oil.
Retreat fire-resistant clothing after
laundering. Prohibit upturned sleeves
Welding Safety on the Farm
• Wear proper gear for
• Thoroughly clean
any container that
contained a
substance before
welding or cutting it.
• Maintain a fire
extinguisher at the
welding site.
• Ventilate the welding
• Keep tanks, valves
and welding
equipment in good
• Keep flames, heat
and sparks away
from combustible
• Avoid electric
welders with
defective jaws or
poor insulation on
the cables.
and collars, because sparks or other
materials may get caught in them.
Button sleeves and collars.
Before Welding
Properly train all people welding. Do
not allow anyone to use the equipment
until they know the exact instructions on
how to operate it. Do routine maintenance
to keep equipment in working order.
Ventilate the work area well. There must
be sufficient movement of air to prevent
toxic fumes from building up or oxygen
from becoming deficient.
Cutting Containers
Never weld or cut used drums,
barrels, tanks or other containers unless
they have been thoroughly cleaned of all
substances that may
produce flammable vapors
or gases. Never use oxygen
to ventilate a container, as
cutting, always
it may start a fire or cause
keep a fire
an explosion. As a final
precaution after cleaning, a
container should be vented
nearby. Never
and filled with water before
use a cutting
welding or cutting begins.
torch where
The container should be
sparks will be a
arranged so water can be
hazard, such as kept filled to within a few
inches of the point where
near rooms
the welding or cutting is to
take place. Be sure there is
a vent or opening to
provide for release of air
pressure or steam.
Safety in Cutting
Whenever cutting, always keep a
fire extinguisher nearby. Never use a
cutting torch where sparks will be a
hazard, such as near rooms containing
flammable materials (especially dipping
or spraying rooms). Take extra
precaution in greasy, dirty, or gassy
areas. If the cutting is to be over a
wooden floor, sweep the floor clean
and wet it down before starting the
cutting. Provide a bucket containing
water or sand to catch the dripping
slag. Move combustible materials at
least 40 feet away from any cutting or
welding. If cutting is to be done near
flammable materials and the flammable
materials cannot be moved, use suitable
fire-resistant guards, partitions or screens.
Safety in Gas Welding
Under no circumstances should
acetylene gas come in contact with
unalloyed copper, except in a torch.
Any contact of acetylene with highalloyed copper piping will generate
copper acetylide, which is very reactive
and may result in a violent explosion.
After assembling, all piping must be
blown out with air or nitrogen to
remove foreign materials.
Safety in Arc Welding
Arc welding includes shielded metalarc, gas shielded and resistance welding.
Only general safety measures can be
shown for these areas because arc
welding equipment varies considerably in
size and type. Specific manufacturers’
recommendations should be followed in
each area.
Five Basic Rules for Safe Handling
of Oxy-Acetylene Equipment
1. Keep oxy-acetylene equipment
clean, free of oil, and in good
2. Avoid oxygen and acetylene
3. Open cylinder valves slowly.
4. Purge oxygen and acetylene
lines before lighting torch.
5. Keep heat, flame and sparks
away from combustibles.
Equip welding machines with power
disconnect switches. Locate them at or
near the machines so the power can be
shut off quickly. Do not make repairs to
welding equipment unless the power to
the machine is disconnected. The high
voltage used for arc welding machines
can inflict severe and fatal injuries. Do
not use welding machines without
proper grounding. Stray current may
develop, which can cause severe shock
when ungrounded parts are touched. Do
not ground to pipelines carrying gases or
flammable liquids.
Do not use electrode holders with
loose cable connections. Always keep
connections tight. Avoid using electrode
holders with defective jaws or poor
insulation. Do not change the polarity
switch when the machine is under a
load. Wait until the machine idles and
the circuit is open. Otherwise, the
contact switch may be burned and the
person throwing the switch may
receive a severe burn from the arcing.
Do not operate the range switch
under load. The range switch, which
provides the current setting, should be
operated only while the machine is
idling and the current is open.
Switching the current while the
machine is under a load will cause an
arc to form between the contact
surfaces. Do not overload welding
cables or operate a machine with poor
connections. Operating with currents
beyond the rated cable capacity causes
overheating. Poor connections may
cause the cable to arc when it touches
metal grounded in the welding circuit.
Do not strike an arc if
someone without proper eye
protection is nearby. Arc rays
are harmful to the eyes and
skin. If other persons must
work nearby, the welding area
should be partitioned off with a
fire-retardant canvas curtain to
protect them from the arc
welding flash. Never pick up pieces of
recently welded or heated metal.
Always wear protective eye goggles
when chipping or grinding. A small
particle of slag or metal may cause a
severe eye injury.
Steps to Prevent Electrical Shock
Electrical shock can be deadly.
There are steps that can be taken to
prevent electrical shock. Use well
insulated electrode holders and cables.
Keep clothing and gloves dry. Never
change electrodes with bare hands, wet
gloves or when standing on wet floors. If
the ground is wet, use a dry board or
rubber mat to stand on. Ground frames
of welding units. Keep welding cables
dry and free of grease and oil. Protect
welding cables and leads. Keep welding
cables away from power supply cables.
Never loop the welding cable around the
Air Contaminants
Welding generates fumes and gases.
The amount and type of fumes and
gases involved depends on the welding
process, base material and filler
material. The toxicity of the
contaminants depends primarily upon
concentrations. Provide adequate
ventilation. Use exhaust hoods, air
moving systems, and roof and wall
exhaust fans. Also use natural
This Maine Farm Safety fact sheet is part of an educational fact sheet series produced by University of
Maine Cooperative Extension. For more information on farm safety, contact your county Extension
For the most current Extension publications, see our online catalog at
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