Welding Fumes Cause Major Health Risks to Welders

Exposure to welding fumes in the workplace has caused many workers throughout the years to suffer from a wide range of illnesses. Manganese, for instance, is a dangerous element of welding fumes. Too much exposure to manganese can cause irreversible negative effects to a person’s central nervous system and brain.

Specific examples of problems caused by too much exposure include:

  • Fatigue, weakness and mental confusion
  • Paralysis and spastic gait
  • Dry cough, dry throat and chest tightness
  • Insomnia
  • Vomiting
  • Lower back pain

Some also believe that high quantities of manganese exposure can induce a certain type of Parkinson’s disease-the form of the condition that affects a different area of the brain. Others say, traditional Parkinson’s disease as well can be caused as a result of exposure to welding fumes.

Proper Safety Standards

Because of these dangers, training is an important part of any safety program. Employers of individuals who will be working around welding fumes must provide proper training and safety devices in order to reduce the risk of illness. Welders should be trained on how to properly work around the fumes so they do not stand directly in the fume plume or stand in a way that would allow the fumes or other particles to get under their face shields. Non-welders need to be trained on how to work around the fumes as well. Labels and warnings must also be used.

Among the important precautions to take is to have well performing ventilation systems in the work area. If workers are outdoors employers must still take precautions and make sure that welders do not stand near the fume plume and to work upwind so they can lessen any exposure to the welding fumes. A respirator is a great supplement to adequate ventilation.

There are also alternative welding methods available to employers who want to reduce their employee’s exposure to the fumes. For example, there are low-fume welding rods and other materials which create fewer fumes.

However, individuals injured by welding fumes can seek legal recourse if their employers did not follow proper safety standards. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney should be consulted to explain the law in more detail.