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Welder exposure to hazardous metal fumes

On Behalf of | Jul 7, 2016 | Workers' Compensation

New Jersey welders should be aware of the various health risks posed by harmful welding fume byproducts. All types of fusion welding produce potentially harmful gases and byproducts, which can lead to such serious medical issues as cancer and central nervous system damage. Lung and larynx cancer are commonly associated with welding fume exposure, as is kidney damage.

OSHA warns that short-term exposure to welding gases can lead to dizziness, eye and throat irritation, and nausea. Long-term welding fume exposure can result in lasting medical issues, many of which can be fatal. Gases such as helium, carbon dioxide and argon can also increase the risk of suffocation, particularly for workers in tightly enclosed spaces.

OSHA advises welders to take precautions against metal gas exposure by gaining a thorough understanding of all risks associated with welding. Workers can also reduce the risk of exposure by keeping their welding surfaces clean to remove the build up of toxic coatings. Welders should also stay upwind when working on projects in open areas and always use proper ventilation when working indoors. Exhaust ports should be kept far away from other welders in the area to prevent gas exposure. Respiratory protection gear can also help prevent fume exposure in poorly ventilated areas.

People who become ill due to exposure to toxic gases in the workplace may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Unfortunately, some employers or their insurers will attempt to deny that the illness had anything to do with workplace conditions. As a result, it may be advisable to have the assistance of an attorney throughout the claims process.