Safe Practices

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No one ever learned to weld by only talking or reading about it. Welding takes practice. But practice doesn’t always make perfect. Practice makes perfect only when what you are practicing is correct. If what you are practicing is incorrect, then practice makes imperfect.

Remember that in any event, practice makes permanent what you do. So be sure what you practice is right.

We might also point out here that if you thoroughly understand the basic principles involved and why you have to follow certain procedures to get the best results, then your practice work will be easier and pleasanter. And you’ll be able to learn more from your practice work and get more out of it. So again we emphasize how important it’s that you thoroughly under stand the material in the first three sections of this book.

The first practice sessions in this guide will be very simple and will consist of adjusting the controls of the welding machine and striking an arc. As in all matters concerning welding, this work must be done safely. So let us look into the matter of safe practice requirements.

Common Sense

The safety precautions given here are based on nothing more than good common sense. If you analyze these safety precautions carefully you will have to agree that this is true.

A man who stops and thinks carefully hardly ever has an accident or gets into trouble. Some men have been injured in welding accidents, and some have even been killed in welding accidents. But no one has ever been injured or killed by welding equipment if he was careful.

So remember the basic rule: “Use good common sense!” Only fools do foolish things or take foolish chances.

Machines

High voltage electricity is common—nearly everyone uses it at work and at home. But never forget that if it’s mishandled, high voltage is dangerous.

If your welding machine is an A.C. welder or a D.C. generator driven by an A.C. motor, the primary current (input) is probably 220 or 440 volts. This should be handled carefully, and the motor and frame should be well grounded.

If your welding machine is a D.C. generator driven by a gasoline or diesel engine you have no high voltage current to worry about, but you are making electric power with a generator so reasonable precautions should be taken.

High amperage is not usually dangerous. High volt age is always dangerous. Both should be treated with care. They should not be feared, but should be respected. Proper grounding and insulation along with careful handling will insure against an electrical accident of any kind.

Equipment

Welding equipment should be kept in first class condition at all times, and the welder should be maintained at its peak efficiency. Here are four specific points to remember

(1) All cables should be of the correct size and load- carrying capacity and should be well insulated.

(2) The insulation on the welding cable should be checked periodically.

(3) The cable connections at the welder, the ground clamp and the electrode holder should be tight.

Any loose connection will cause the cable or clamp to overheat. If any connection is too loose it will cause arcing at that point.

(4) The electrode holder should be fully insulated and should grip the electrode tightly and hold it firmly.

Protective Clothing

A welder’s clothing is an important item of his work paraphernalia. His clothing protects him from burns caused by hot sparks and slag and from burns caused by light rays from the arc.

A welding operator should wear hard, slick, cotton clothing. Avoid wools and synthetics. He should wear long-sleeve shirts with collars that fasten well up around his neck. Any shirt pockets should have flaps that button over them. His trousers should be straight- legged, without cuffs. He should wear shoes that come at least above his ankles. Low shoes are “spark catchers.”

A good head shield, gloves and cap are absolutely essential to good welding. The head shield should fit well, be light and comfortable and be leak-tight against light. The gloves should be leak-tight against sparks, and the hat should cover the hair and be comfortable.

Use a No. 10 colored lens most of the time. Some times a darker lens (No. 11 or 12) will be necessary, but never use a lighter one for regular work. A lighter than No. 10 lens should be used only on very special occasions for very low amperage.

Never look at an arc without the protection of a colored lens. The direct arc rays will “sun-burn” the eyes just as they “sun-burn” the skin. This burn is called an eye flash burn and though it won’t cause permanent injury, it will make your eyes feel like they are full of sand and isn’t a pleasant experience. The treatment is a good eye wash and rest.

A welder who has trouble seeing his work should see his eye doctor.

Chipping

Never clean slag and never chip or grind metal with out eye protection. It takes only a second to put on goggles, but blindness lasts a long, long time.

Further Precautions

Keep dry. Water is an electrical conductor. Anything that's wet can carry current. Never stand in water or on wet floors while welding. Dry off the work pieces, work bench, and other equipment before starting to weld. Never use wet gloves.

Never play with, or play tricks with any welding equipment. The devices used for welding are work tools, not play toys. They are for men, not children.

Never take a chance on anything. Be safe.

Remember that “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” Though the average welder is no angel, he’d better not be a fool if he wants to live a long time to enjoy the world’s best work, in which he is engaged.

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Next: Striking an Arc

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