Whether you’re a welding novice or an expert, having the right PPE for the task at hand is always necessary. PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment and it encompasses everything, from head to toe, that you need to stay safe from the many hazards of welding. This guide to essential PPE all welders need will help you remain healthy, secure, and comfortable during your next project.
First thing’s first—a welding helmet. This piece of PPE is crucial for shielding your face from the bright lights, heat, radiation, and hot debris that welding emits. Specifically, invest in an auto-darkening helmet instead of a fixed-shade one. As the name suggests, auto-darkening helmets tint when they detect the presence of welding arcs in tandem with the particular sensitivity you set it at prior to the weld.
Underneath the mask, you’ll also need safety goggles equipped with side shields, fire-resistant earmuffs, a welding cap (for keeping hair safe and secure), and a respirator. The purpose of a respirator is to prevent you from inhaling toxic fumes and vapors that welds emit. When it comes to choosing a respirator, it ultimately comes down to what your specific welding method (TIG, MIG, etc.) calls for.
To protect your upper body from burns during the weld, you’ll need the assistance of fire-resistant leather jackets, shirts, and gloves. Similar to the respirator, the specific types of welding gloves you use depends on multiple factors, including your welding method of choice. Although you should avoid putting yourself in this situation, if any of the apparel such as your jacket has pockets or cuffs, properly seal them beforehand to prevent any hot debris from getting inside and causing fires or burns.
Suffice it to say, the essential PPE all welders need doesn’t begin and end at the upper half of your body (sorry jean-short enthusiasts). Lower-body welding PPE includes fire-resistant pants, aprons, and steel-toed boots. Just like with your upper-body PPE, be wary of any pockets or cuffs on your lower-body gear. Falling sparks can imbed themselves in these crevices and smolder over time, which might not be apparent to the welder at first but can eventually have dire consequences.