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Dangers of exposure to welding fumes

Welders on Oklahoma job sites need to be aware of the types of toxic fumes to which they may be exposed during the course of their duties. Both pressure and fusion welding produce smoke that contains potentially harmful gas byproducts and metal fumes. Metals contained in the fumes include arsenic, aluminum, lead, manganese and beryllium. Gas byproducts contained in the smoke include carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrogen fluoride, nitrogen and argon.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, these substances can cause workers to experience serious health conditions. Long-term exposure can lead to the development of cancer of the larynx, urinary tract and the lungs. Even short-term exposure to the fumes can lead to nausea, dizziness and irritation of the eyes, throat and nose.

OSHA recommends that welders start by understanding the risks associated with exposure to welding fumes. The agency then recommends that the surfaces at work are cleaned regularly so toxic substances do not build up on them. Workers should always try to stay upwind of the welding fumes, and if they are welding indoors, their employers should make certain that good ventilation systems are installed. Workers should not weld in spaces that are confined that do not have proper ventilation, and they should always wear the proper respiratory equipment.

Employers owe a duty of care to their workers to provide an environment that emphasizes workplace safety and that is reasonably free from hazards. Employers should make certain that their workers are provided with the proper training they need to keep themselves safe. Employers need to provide the proper safety equipment and mandate that all of their workers use it every time they are performing hazardous tasks.

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