The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a division of the U. S. Department of Labor, sets and enforces regulations related to safety in the workplace. Among these regulations are several related to welding, an occupation which has a significant potential for accident or injury, among which is the high volume of gases and fumes it produces. OSHA addresses this issue by regulating the ventilation in workplaces where welding is performed.
Before welding begins, all hollow spaces or cavities should be vented to allow air and gases to escape. Mechanical ventilation of at least 2,000 cubic feet per minute per welder should be provided for workplaces with a ceiling height of less than 16 feet, or that measure less than 10,000 cubic feet per welder. Movable hoods capable of providing an airflow rate of 100 linear feet per minute should be placed as close to the welder as is practical. In situations where it is impossible to provide adequate ventilation, all workers should wear OSHA-approved airline respirators or hose masks.
Mechanical ventilation for welders working in shipyards should consist of local exhaust systems or general mechanical ventilation. General mechanical ventilation should produce the number of air changes necessary to maintain fumes and welding smoke within safe limits. Contaminated exhaust should be diverted away from the source of the intake air.
Mechanical ventilation should consist of local exhaust systems or general mechanical ventilation. Local exhaust ventilation should include portable hoods that are placed as close to the welder as is practical for him to work. Exhaust that is discharged should be placed into the open air or away from the intake air source. Oxygen should not be used for ventilation purposes.
In confined spaces where ventilation cannot be obtained, welders should be protected by OSHA-approved air line respirators. In addition, an employee should be stationed outside the confined space who can keep in communication with the workers in case of an emergency.
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