Welding causes sunburn, but it does not cause total skin destruction. However, it is still a serious health hazard to the welder. Welders must take immediate precautions to prevent sunburn and skin damage.
Sunburns caused by welding can be prevented by wearing protective clothing, such as a welding safety helmet and heavy-duty glasses. These safety measures make it possible for welders to avoid getting sunburned, but they cannot prevent all types of skin damage that may occur during welding. This article will focus on the dangers of having welders expose themselves to the sun without wearing protective clothing.
Causes of Welding Sunburn
The direct causes of welding sunburn are contrived by the intense heat from the arc and the fact that welding is done under a glare source. The heat from the arc may not be sufficient to cause an immediate physical burn, but it is enough to cause immediate tissue damage. This tissue damage results in sunburn and other skin problems later on. Directly related causes are:
1.) The heat of an arc burns off the protective layer of epidermis and the underlying dermis, resulting in sunburn.
2.) The intense heat of the arc burns off the sweat and oils on the skin surface, causing dryness and peeling.
3.) The glare caused by the welding arc may cause eye damage, resulting in temporary or permanent blindness.
4.) The glare causes problems with vision and may cause permanent damage to sensitive areas of the eyes and vision.
5.) The intense heat of an arc burns off skin oils and debris the skin surface, causing irritation to sensitive areas of the skin. Dryness results which can cause cracking, fissures or bleeding of the skin. Irritation can also lead to infection.
6.) The intense heat of welding sparks causes tiny particles to be blown directly into the eyes, causing temporary or permanent vision damage.
Treatment of Welding Sunburn
If you have a burn, immediately seek medical attention. If the burn is not severe, you may be able to treat it with over-the-counter medications. Your physician will give your burn a medical name and will prescribe the appropriate treatment. Treatment of welding sunburn takes time and patience, as well as proper medication and doctor’s care.
Follow these steps when treating welding sunburn:
1.) Immediately remove the gloves from your hands to stop any further damage. You must also unplug the electrical source from the machine or turn off the machine and do not reinsert the power cord to prevent further damage.
2.) Treat the burn area with cool water and mild soap.
3.) Cover the burn with a sterile bandage or dry dressing. Do not use any type of chemical skin preparation or any kind of ointment.
4.) Treat the eye area if you cannot see clearly after the burn or if there is any vision problem at all. Call your doctor immediately for further advice if you have had a vision problem from welding.
5.) Apply a soothing cream to the skin immediately after treatment and continue to do so until healed. Use an emollient such as aloe vera, petroleum jelly, Vitamin E oil, etc. These act as natural antibacterial agents and help keep the wound moist and clean-looking.
6.) Do not use any type of ointment for treating the burn area, as this can cause further irritation and possibly infection. Use only a cream with a light, non-greasy texture that will not clog your pores.
7.) If you are a welder and have been exposed to welding sunburn, treat the injury as if it was any other type of burn. Use the same procedures listed above for treating any other type of burn in addition to taking precautions to stop further damage from welding.
Prevention of Welding Sunburn
1.) Wear protective clothing such as welding gloves, flame-resistant clothing, welding goggles and a full-face shield if necessary.
2.) Do not work under an arc light or other source of intense light. When welding in the open, wear a full face shield to protect your eyes from the glare of the arc light.
3.) When welding in the open, find an area away from any other sources of intense light such as outside overhangs, sunroofs or windows that have no blinds or shades. Find an area that is shaded from the sun by trees, buildings or other objects so that you will not be bothered by the glare when working on your project. Make sure there is no moisture around your work area.
4.) Use a protective welding jacket or other garment when you are working on construction projects.
5.) Wear long pants and long sleeve shirts to protect your arms and legs from the heat of the arc. Use a welding jacket or other garment if you are exposed to the heat of an arc for long periods of time.
6.) Do not remove any part of your safety apparel while welding, as this causes burns to many parts of your body that can result in more serious injuries. If you have been exposed to welding skin burns, then change into clean clothes after treatment and return to work after a short cooling period. You must keep the skin cool and covered by clothing or bandages until healed completely.
Wear the appropriate safety gear and clothing if you do welding work, and take precautions to prevent welding sunburn. Pay attention to your skin when you are welding, and treat your burns immediately if you have one. If you are a welder, then take care of any injuries that may occur from welding sunburn.
Remember that welding is a very dangerous activity that can cause serious injuries. Take precautions to prevent burning and skin damage when you weld.