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University of Maine at Augusta

46 University Drive

Augusta, Maine 04330

Revised 05/03/2013

Welding Safety Program

This is the University of Maine at Augusta’s Welding Safety Program. It applies to all our work operations.  The Assistant Director of Administrative Services (Rob Marden, 2010) will be responsible for overall direction of the Safety Program.


The following is our company’s Welding Safety program. We have adopted this program in order to implement 29 CFR 1910.252, the OSHA standard regulating welding, cutting and brazing.

Welding is the most common method of joining metals in industry today. When welded, two pieces of similar metals are fused (melted) together. Once completed, the welded joint is as strong or stronger than the pieces from which the joint is formed. General hazards of welding include impact, penetration, harmful dust, smoke, fumes, heat and light radiation. The proper personal protective equipment can protect you from these hazards.

Welders, cutters, and supervisor will be trained in the safe operation of their equipment, safe welding/cutting practices, and welding/cutting respiratory and fire protection. All welding equipment will be inspected daily and defective equipment will be removed from service, replaced or repaired, and re-inspected before being placed in service.

Workers and the public will be shielded from welding rays, flashes, sparks, molten metal, and slag. Cable, hoses, and other equipment will be kept clear of passageways, ladders, and stairways.

Welding and Cutting of Hazardous Materials

When welding, cutting, or heating where hazardous materials are involved the following rules will apply:

  1. Before welding, cutting, or heating has begun on any surface covered by a preservative coating whose flammability is not known, a test will be made to determine its flammability preservative coatings will be considered highly flammable when scrapings burn with extreme rapidity.
  2. Preservative coatings will be removed from the area to be heated to ensure any temperature increase of the unstripped metal will not be appreciable, artificial cooling of the metal surrounding the heating area may be used to limit the area to be stripped.
  3. When welding, cutting, or heating toxic preservative coatings in enclosed spaces, all surfaces covered with toxic preservatives will be stripped of coverings for a distance of at least 4 inches from the area of heat application or the employees will be protected by air line respirators.
  4. When welding, cutting, or heating toxic preservative coatings in the open air, employees will be protected by respirators.
  5. All structural welding accomplished by the contractor or subcontractor on critical items such as scaffolding, shoring, forms, ladders, piling, etc., will be performed by certified welders using qualified welding procedures.
  6. Before heat is applied to a drum, container, or hollow structure, a vent or opening will be provided for the release of any built-up pressure generated during the application of heat.
  7. Employees performing welding, cutting, or heating will be protected by PPE appropriate for the hazards: respiratory, vision, and skin protection.

Noncombustible Barriers

  1. Noncombustible barriers will be installed below welding or burning operations in a shaft or raise. Openings or cracks in walls, floors, or ducts within 35 ft of the site will be tightly covered to prevent the passage of sparks to adjacent areas.
  2. Where welding or cutting is to be done near walls, partitions, ceiling or roof of combustible construction, fire resistant guards shall be provided to prevent ignition.
  3. Where welding or cutting is to be done on a metal wall, partition, ceiling, or roof, precautions shall be taken to prevent ignition, due to heat conduction or radiation, of combustibles on the other side.
  4. Welding or cutting shall not be done on a metal partition, wall, ceiling, or roof with a combustible covering nor on walls or partitions of combustible sandwich-type panel construction before welding or cutting drums, tanks, or other containers and equipment which have contained hazardous materials the containers shall be thoroughly cleaned. Hot tapping or other welding or cutting on a flammable gas or liquid transmission or distribution pipeline will be performed only by personnel qualified to make hot taps and only with the permission of the designated authorities.
  5. When welding or cutting is done near a sprinkler head, a wet cloth shall be used to cover the head during, and then removed at the completion of, the welding or cutting.
  6. When welding or cutting in areas protected by fire detection and suppression systems, precautions will be taken to avoid accidental initiation of these systems.


Gas Metal Arc Welding

Chlorinated solvents will be kept at least 200 ft., unless shielded, from the exposed arc. Surfaces prepared with chlorinated solvents will be dry before welding is permitted on such surfaces. Persons in the area not protected from the arc by screening will be protected by filter lenses. When two or more welders are exposed to each other's arc, filter lens goggles will be worn under welding helmets. Hand shields will be used to protect the welders against flashes and radiant energy when either the helmet is lifted or the shield is removed.

Information on gas welding and cutting may be found in 29 CFR 1910.253.

Welders and other persons who are exposed to radiation will be protected so that the skin is covered to prevent burns and other damage by ultraviolet rays. Welding helmets and hand shields will be free of leaks, openings, and highly reflective surfaces. When gas metal arc welding is performed on stainless steel, persons will be protected against dangerous concentrations of nitrogen dioxide by local exhaust ventilation or air line respirators.

Oxy-fuel Gas Welding and Cutting

Oxy-fuel gas welding and cutting equipment shall be listed by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. Oxygen cylinders and apparatus will be kept free from oil, grease, and other flammable or explosive substances and will not be handled with oily hands or gloves. Oxygen cylinders and apparatus will not be used interchangeably with any other gas.

Information on oxy-fuel gas welding and cutting may be found in 29 CFR 1910.253.


  1. Fuel gas hose and oxygen hose will be readily distinguishable from each other.
  2. Oxygen and fuel gas hoses will not be interchangeable; a single hose having more than one gas passage will not be used.
  3. Hose couplings of the type that can be unlocked or disconnected without a rotary motion are prohibited.
  4. Hose which has been subject to flashback or which shows severe wear or damage will be tested to twice the normal pressure to which it is subjected, and in no case less than (300 psi); defective hose, or hose in doubtful condition, will not be used.
  5. When parallel runs of oxygen and fuel gas hose are taped together, not more than 10 out of every (4 out of every 12 in) will be covered by tape.
  6. Boxes used for the storage of gas hose will be ventilated.
  7. Hose connections will be clamped or otherwise securely fastened in a manner that will withstand, without leakage, twice the pressure to which they are normally subjected in service, but not less than (300 psi).


Torches shall be inspected, at the beginning of each working shift, for leaking shutoff valves, hose couplings, and tip connections: defective torches will not be used.

  1. Hoses will be purged individually before lighting the torch for the first time each day. Hoses will not be purged into confined spaces or near ignition sources.
  2. Clogged torch tip openings shall be cleaned with suitable cleaning wires, drills, or other devices designed for such purposes.
  3. Torches will be lighted by friction lighters or other approved devices, not by matches or from hot work.
  4. Torch valves will be closed and the gas supply shut off whenever work is suspended.
  5. The torch and hose will be removed from confined spaces whenever work is suspended.
  6. Oxy-fuel gas, and other fuel gas-oxygen, welding and cutting systems utilizing cylinder-hose-torch will have a reverse-flow check valve, in each hose, between the torch and the regulator. (Reverse-flow check valves that are integral with the torch are acceptable.)

Arc Welding and Cutting

Electric welding apparatus shall be installed, maintained, and operated in accordance with the NEC. Information on arc welding and cutting may be found in 29 CFR 1910.254.

Manual Electrode Holders

  1. Only manual electrode holders specifically designed for arc welding and cutting of a capacity capable of safety handling the maximum rated current required by the electrodes may be used.
  2. All current carrying parts of the holder which are gripped by the welder or cutter, and the outer jaws of the holder, will be fully insulated against the maximum voltage encountered to ground.

Cables and Connectors

  1. Cables shall be completely insulated, flexible, capable of handling the maximum current requirements of the work in progress, and in good repair.
  2. Cables with splices or repaired insulation within 10 feet of the holder shall not be used.
  3. Where it becomes necessary to connect or splice lengths of cable together, insulated connectors of a capacity at least equivalent to that of the cable shall be used. When connections are affected by cable lugs, they shall be securely fastened together to give good electrical contact and the exposed metal parts of the lugs shall be completely insulated.
  4. The frames of arc welding and cutting machines shall be grounded either by a third wire in the cable connecting the circuit conductor or by a separate wire which is grounded at the source of the current (29 CFR 1910.132).

All filter lenses and plates must meet the test for transmission of radiant energy prescribed in the ANSI standard Z87.1968, Practice for Occupational and Educational Eye and Face Protection.

According to OSHA 29 CFR 1910.252, helmets and hand shields shall protect the face, forehead, neck and ears to a vertical line in back of the ears, from the arc direct radiant energy, and weld splatter.

Welding helmets with filter plates are intended to protect users from arc rays and from weld sparks and spatters which strike directly against the helmet. They are not intended to protect against slag chips, grinding fragments, wire wheel bristles, and similar hazards which can ricochet under the helmet. Spectacles, goggles or other appropriate eye protection must also be worn to protect against these impact hazards.

OSHA requires that when arc cutting and arc welding with open arcs, helmets or hand shields with filter lenses and cover plates shall be used by operators and nearby personnel viewing the arc also subject to wear proper protection. Spectacles with a shade 2 lens are recommended for general purpose protection for viewers. When resistance welding or brazing: operators of resistance welding must use face shields, spectacles, or goggles depending on the particular job to protect their faces and eyes from welding hazards.

Filter Shade Selection for Type of Welding


Electrode Size (mm)

Arc Current (A)

Min Shade

Suggested Shade

Shielded Metal

< 2.5 mm

< 60



Arc Welding

2.5 - 4mm

4 - 6.4mm

> 6.4mm

60 - 160

160 - 250

250 - 550







Gas Metal Welding and Flux Cored Arc


< 60

60 - 160

160 - 250

250 - 500









Gas Tungsten Arc Welding


< 50

50 - 150





Air Carbon Arc Cutting


150 - 500

< 500

500 - 1000







Torch Brazing


3 or 4

Torch Soldering



Carbon Arc Welding



Gas Welding (plate under 1/8’’ thick, light)


4 or 5

Gas Welding (plate 1/8’’ to 1/2’’ thick, medium)


5 or 6

Gas Welding (plate over 1/2’’ thick, heavy)


6 or 8

Oxygen Cutting (plate under 1’’ thick, light)


3 or 4

Oxygen Cutting (plate 1’’ to 6’’ thick, medium)


4 or 5

Oxygen Cutting (plate over 6’’ thick, heavy)


5 or 6


*As a rule of thumb, start with a shade that is too dark to see the weld zone. Then go to a lighter shade that gives sufficient view of the weld zone without going below the minimum. In Oxy-fuel Gas Welding or Cutting where the torch produces a high yellow light, it is desirable to use a filter lens that absorbs the yellow or sodium line in the visible light of the operation.

**This applies to where the actual arc is clearly seen. Experience has shown that lighter filters may be used when the arc is hidden by the work piece.

Workers with prescription lenses are not exempt from wearing proper eye protection.

Appropriate protective clothing for any welding and cutting operation will vary with the size nature and location of the work to be performed. Clothing shall provide sufficient coverage and be made of suitable materials to minimize skin burns caused by sparks, spatter or radiation. Covering all parts of the body is recommended to protect against ultraviolet and infrared ray flash burn.

Dark clothing works best to reduce reflection under the face shield. Heavier materials such as wool clothing, heavy cotton or leather are preferred as they resist deterioration. Materials that can melt or can cause severe burn due to sparks that may lodge in rolled-up sleeves, pockets of clothing or pant cuffs are not recommended.

The standard requires all welders and cutters to wear protective flame-resistant gloves, such as leather welder's gloves, which provide the heat resistance needed for welding. A gauntlet cuff offers additional arm protection, and insulated linings should be used to protect areas exposed to high radiant energy.

Other protective clothing would include durable, flame-resistant aprons made of leather or other suitable materials to provide protection to the front of the body when additional protection against sparks and radiant energy is needed.


Ventilation refers to changes of room air as often as necessary to prevent welders and other workers from breathing high levels of airborne contaminants. Ventilation is a means of providing adequate breathing air, and must be provided for all welding, cutting, brazing and related operations. Information on Ventilation may be found in 29 CFR 1910.94.

Adequate ventilation depends on the following factors:


  • Volume and configuration of the space where the welding operations occur
  • Number and type of operations that are generating contaminants
  • Natural air flow rate where operations are taking place
  • Locations of the welders' and other workers' breathing zones in relation to the contaminants or sources


Proper ventilation can be obtained either naturally or mechanically.

Natural ventilation is considered sufficient for welding and brazing operations if the present work area meets these requirements:


  • Space of more than 10,000 square feet is provided per welder
  • A ceiling height of more than 16 feet
  • Welding is not done in a confined space
  • Welding space does not contain partitions, balconies or structured barriers that obstruct cross ventilation


If your specific operation does not fall within these guidelines, mechanical ventilation will be required.

Mechanical ventilation options generally fall into two basic categories. The first is the low vacuum system which takes large volumes of air at low velocities. These systems consist of hoods positioned at a distance from the work area. The hood and housing may have to be repositioned by the worker to get maximum benefit from this means of ventilation. Hoods generally remove the fumes and contaminated air through ducting and exhaust the contaminants to the outdoors. Hoods should be placed as near as practical to the work, and should provide effective air flow with a velocity of 100 linear feet (30m) per minute at its most remote distance from the point of welding. Processes where low vacuum systems work best are arc air gouging, taking afterburner, and arc cutting.

Another category of mechanical ventilation is the high vacuum system. These are close-range extractors that are aimed at capturing and extracting fumes as near to the work as possible. Fume extractors often have an immediate area of welding. By removing a small volume of air at a high velocity, the potentially hazardous materials are effectively removed before reaching the welder's breathing zone. These systems often are equipped with a fan that pulls the contaminants into a filtration system, with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Absolute) filter or combination of HEPA filter and pre-filter and then re-circulated the clean air back into the work area. Advantages of high vacuum systems are greater flexibility for job adaptation, more efficient means of fume removal, and greater visibility to the welder due to reduced clouds of fumes and vapors being created.

Fumes and gases from welding and cutting cannot be easily classified. The quantity of fumes and gases is relative to the metal being worked and the processes and consumable material being used (such as coatings, like paint, galvanizing and plating), along with contaminants in the atmosphere (such as halogenated hydrocarbon vapors from cleaning and degreasing activities).

Air sampling to verify the concentration levels of toxic fumes and gases is necessary, and respiratory protection is required along with mechanical ventilation in the cutting and/or welding of certain metals and compounds. For more information, see OSHA 29 CFR 1910.252 on welding regulations.