Welding is hot and dangerous work, so choosing the right PPE for welding is essential. With welding, workers recognise that PPE is mandatory - so you’re not likely to see someone skipping out on vital safety gear; however, comfort and fit are important to keep you going all day.
Are you tasked with buying PPE or finding which is right for your business? Here are some tips for choosing the best PPE for Welding:
For welding, head protection comes in the form of a helmet, a browguard, a head shield, and/or a welding screen to protect from UV radiation, infrared, molten metal and impact.
Important considerations when choosing the appropriate headgear is range of vision and level of protection. Most welding head protection ensures comfort and can feature a variety of shade settings (sometimes automatic darkening) to protect during gas welding, micro-plasma, low-amp TIG welding and arc welding.
There are many lightweight varieties available too. Some specialty helmets can detect arc welding light and become transparent when the arc welder stops. Other safety features also allow spatter to roll down the headgear instead of pooling, and others have cut-aways to prevent shoulder contact to ensure that the helmets do not move.
The type of head protection you need will vary by industry, but make sure shields are approved under EN 379, EN 175, and/or EN 166 39B regulations.
An example of an auto darkening welding helmet.
Examples of welding face shields.
Even when wearing a face shield or helmet, welders need goggles too. There are safety glasses that range from simple sunglass-like protection to full all-encompassing eye protection. Most can be worn over prescription glasses. Many lenses come in Shade 5 protection, and some offer varying fields of vision. Some have soft PVC frames. Most are splatter resistant.
The newest technology comes with gray tinted lenses to offer protection without colour loss - you’ll lose the traditional “green” vision. Grey lenses protect from sun glare and welding. All protection comes with varying safety features ranging from scratch resistant, anti-mist, anti-fog, adjustable fit, lightweight, and so forth.
Make sure your goggles or overspecs meet these European safety standards: EN 166 1F, EN 166, EN 176, and/or EN 169.
Our Portwest Welding Goggles are only £1.11 per pair!
Welding gloves should be robust and hard wearing for top safety. The gloves should be approved to BS EN 388:1994, BS EN 407:1994 and BS EN 12477 standards. Welding gloves are often made of Kevlar, sheepskin, or leather. Some can cover the forearm, have specialty linings, and come with no or welted seams to protect from fire. Double-palm reinforcement is recommended.
Our Portwest Welders Guantlets are only £3.37 per pair!
Suitable respiratory protection must be supplied to those who need it. Correct fit testing, training, maintenance, use, and records must be kept for safety. For welding, the main hazards are welding fumes, gases, and vapours, which can cause severe health problems if they aren’t protected against. The type of product you’ll need depends on type and duration of use.
There are two main types of respirators for welding: powered respirators and valve respirators. Powered respirators are most often used for professional welders and provide the most safety as they force filtered air through the system to aid in breathing. The downside is they can often be heavy and require more strain on the head by having to tighten head straps, but new designs alleviate some of these concerns. Valve respirators look like face masks and have filter technology. Most are metal free, have fully adjustable head straps for secure fit, and come with preformed shapes. Exhalation valves often reduce temperature and humidity. Carbon filters can protect against dust, oil-based mists, water-based mists, metallic fume, ozone, and odours. Some are flame retardant and clog resistant.
The type of respirator needed will depend on the type of work, but, as a rule, the powered respirators are seldom recommended for all day use.
Example of a valved respirator and a powered respirator.
Clothing for welders depends on the duration and purpose of the welding activity. Covering the whole body with flame retardant material is a must. Clothing must meet EN ISO 11611: 2007 regulation, a standard for welding clothing. Clothing must be anti-static. The clothing seams are also tested for anti-static and flame spread for maximum protection. Welding protection is being tested to withstand repeated washings (as stated by the manufacturer) to ensure that it’s safe from day one to the fiftieth wash. Any clothing that is no longer safe should be replaced immediately.
Clothing protection ranges from light splatter - such as in gas, TIG, micro plasma, brazing, spot, and MMA welding - to heavy splatter - MMA with cellulose-covered electrode, MAG (CO2, mixed), MIG (high current), self shielded flux core arc, plasma cutting, gouging, oxygen cutting, and thermal spraying welding types. Make sure you’re wearing the correctly rated clothing for your particular uses.
Protective garments range from jackets to coveralls.
Examples of welding body protection. As you can see, protective clothing for welding varies.
Shielded Metal Arc Welding
Gas Metal Arc Welding
For foot protection, welders need welding boots and optional gaiters. Safety footwear is important as is comfort and protection. All footwear should be tested to EN ISO 20345 standards and should have anti-static, anti-shock, cushion, and heat resistant properties. They should withstand heats up to 300°C. Other nice features are moisture wicking properties, dual-density rubber soles, and quick release fasteners. Heavy duty chrome leather gaiters can be worn over work shoes to protect against spatter.
Examples of welding foot protection: boots and leather gaiters.
For added workplace safety, welding environments should have welding curtains, smooth glass cloth and anti fatigue mats. Some curtains come in portable varieties to be moved to and from work areas and in different colours. Smooth glass cloth is intended for short term use up to 600°C and can be used continuously up to 400°C.
Glass cloth is ideal for thermal insulation, fire protection/blankets, welding screens to protect against sparks, smoke curtains, electrical and hose insulation. Fortaglas Weldstop cloths are heat resistant withstanding oxygen rich flame penetration in excess of 1500°C. It’s resistant to molten metal, metal droplets (up to 70 grams) - and can be contained and cooled on the fabric without penetration; it’s abrasion resistant, and rough handling doesn’t lessen its effectiveness.
Anti fatigue mats are usually made of rubber and repel sparks and hot metal shards.
Examples of welding curtains/screens, anti fatigue mat, and glass cloth.
What Xamax Offers
Make sure that every inch of your workers is protected with the correct PPE designed for welding with temperatures so high skin doesn’t stand a chance.
Want to know if your workplace is fully PPE compliant?
Download our FREE PPE checklist. The checklist explains what equipment you need - from head to toe - to keep your workers safe, when you should replace your PPE, how to maintain in, and what European regulations each piece of equipment should meet for maximum safety.