Welding is the process of joining materials together, usually metals, by heat or pressure or both. When heated, the metal reaches molten state and may be joined by heat only or with the use of filler materials. The heat is generated through electric currents (arc welding) or gases (gas welding).
Welding is undertaken in many industries including:
- boiler making
Welding may be undertaken to manufacture machinery, tools and equipment as well as for construction work, repair and maintenance work.
Welding equipment, the welding process, welding material, fillers and gases involved in welding and the welding workspace can all be a source of risk to operators and nearby employees health and safety.
Employers have a duty to provide and maintain for employees a working environment that is safe and without risks to health.
Employers have a duty under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) to eliminate risks to health and safety, so far as is reasonably practicable. If it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate risks to health and safety, you must reduce those risks, so far as is reasonably practicable.
Under the OHS Act and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (OHS Regulations), employers have specific duties and obligations they need to comply with in workplaces where employees may be exposed to hazardous substances like welding fumes or where a lead process is carried out.
Common hazards associated with welding include:
- Fumes and other airborne contaminants
- UV radiation exposure
- Fire and explosions
- Electric shock
- Hazardous manual handling
- Compressed and liquefied gases
Other hazards like excessive noise, exposure to lead, confined spaces and falls can present a risk to employees during the welding process.
Metal fabrication: Improving safety through welding and grinding task layout and design
Risk controls for on-site structural welding
Safe Work Australia: Welding Code of PracticeExternal link
Hazardous manual handling
Confined spaces: Your health and safety guide
Slips, trips and falls