Welding metal is a risky process. It emits ultraviolet light that increases the risk of lots of damage; including skin effects, arc eye, and metal fume fever.
But the potential cause that makes the welder most worried is welding sunburn. So can you get sunburn from welding? If so, how to detect and treat it? Can you avoid getting sunburned from welding?
The answers to all these questions are essential for saving a welder’s life, and you will find them all here.
Can You Get Sunburn From Welding?
Yes, welding can cause you sunburn. While welding outdoors increases the chance of getting sunburn, the UV radiation from welding torches can cause flash burns. Thus, welders must wear protective gear to keep the face and other bare skin safe from exposure to the intense flashes of welding.
How can a welder get welding sunburn?
A welding torch produces flashes and UV radiation that can cause lots of damage to your exposed skin or eyes if they come into contact. The radiation is the same as that which the sun gives. Hence, it is known as a welder’s sunburn.
Apart from the welding torch, the reflection of light on certain surfaces can also affect it in the same way. For instance, a matte-finished surface lowers the welding arc strength, which reduces the harshness of the sunburn.
Conversely, stainless steel and aluminum reflect the light and increase the risk of welding sunburn. Some colors, like blue, also affect the chances and severity of welding sunburn.
How close is enough to get a flash burn from welding?
It depends on how close to the welding you go and the intensity of the welding. For example, if the welder is running at 800 amps, then getting close won’t burn your skin. It generally takes 5 to 10 minutes of direct exposure to get burned.
If you stand 100 feet away from the welder and it is running at 200 amps, then your skin will burn after a long time. But don’t feel safe. Remember, you must be prepared in the same way as you can get burned regardless of whether you are close or far away from running welding.
The signs of welding sunburn
Welding sunburn shows some obvious signs. Though most come out immediately, some can take a few hours.
If your bare skin comes into contact with the UV radiation of the welding machine, you will feel the burn instantly. Considering the severity of the radiation, the skin can become sensitive and may begin to peel in a worse situation.
The signs of flash burn emerge more slowly than the skin’s sunburn. You should get treatment immediately after noticing any of these symptoms of flash burn:
- Watery eyes
- Bloodshot eyes
- Blurred Vision
- Foreign body in eye sensation
How to Treat Welding Sunburn?
If you are already affected by welding sunburn, follow these steps right away:
For the Skin
Cooldown the burnt skin
Cooldown your burned skin using a cold compress to minimize the damage and reduce the inflammation. Alternatively, you can use plain ice for a quicker result.
Disinfect the Wound
If you have an open or deep wound, disinfect it to prevent further difficulties. Otherwise, it can cause pus or an abscess.
Moisturize the burn Area
After dumping the burnt skin, apply a deep moisturizing lotion to it to boost the healing process. Moisturizing lotion is commonly available and is handy for both moisturizing and relieving pain.
Creams that contain calamine or aloe vera can also help reduce inflammation.
Get Plenty of Fluids
After causing welding sunburn, drink plenty of fluids to keep you and the injured area hydrated. It’s a good decision to help in skin healing too.
After initial treatment, call for a first aid response. You should also visit a doctor for a diagnosis and the right treatment plan, particularly if the case is serious.
For the Eyes
For the retinal flash burn, lubricating eye drops. Then cover the eye to prevent contact with light. But if the eyes are already injured, seek medical attention immediately to prevent further developments.
Most of the time, the doctor will prescribe oral medication and topical antibiotics to relieve the pain. A doctor may also suggest covering the injured eye to boost the healing process.
How long can welding sunburn last?
A welding sunburn can last anywhere from 1 to 2 days, considering the condition of the burn. Applying the right treatment and medication will make the healing process faster. If the pain doesn’t go away after two days, call for medical attention.
Can welding sunburn cause skin cancer?
It’s a common and concerning issue among welders as they spend most of their time around dangerous lights. So is it possible?
Welding emits UV and infrared light that is responsible for causing skin cancers. Overexposure to these injurious lights increases the risk of skin cancer. Thus, the welder should protect their arms, neck, chest, and face all the time.
After completing the welding task, inspect your skin for any unusual spots and consult with a doctor if find any. The right thing to do to stop such deadly consequences is to wear protective gear. Let’s get an idea.
How to Avoid Welding Sunburn?
Preventing welding sunburn is a better idea than treating it. By taking some essential precautions, you can easily lower the chances of causing welding sunburn.
The emission of UV intensity varies depending on welding processes. Thus, you should pick the right helmet based on your welding method.
In general, the #10 lens is perfect for MIG welding, while the #11 lens is preferable for TIG welding. But if you mostly apply the arc welding method, use #12 helmets.
Alternately, you can wear goggles as a lightweight option. But goggles will only protect your eyes. The helmet is a preferable option to cover the whole face, including the eyes.
Heavy-duty gloves will protect your hands from sparks, spatter, and heat. Instead of wearing a normal glove, use a thicker leather glove that is slightly flame retardant.
Whether you work in a cold place or outside, wearing a heavy jacket will keep you safe from both the cold weather and UV rays. Wear a protective apron or bib before welding art during the summer season.
Keep the torch far away from the body
Stand in a delicate balancing position from where you can safely operate the torch to do welding. This way you can protect your eyes and avoid exposing your skin to prevent welding sunburn.
UV rays are especially risky for dry skin. Once burned, added moisture is moved from the skin to accelerate the healing process. Thus, the welder should moisturize their skin properly to lower the effect of UV radiation.
Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide works like safety gear to protect the welder from UVA rays, UVC, and UVB. Thus it’s a handy option to apply while preparing for welding.
Yes, sunblock performs as an effective defensive measure to prevent the effect of UV radiation. It will act as a shield on your body and block the UV radiation that is produced during the welding process.
Welding flames and arcs produce intense, noticeable ultraviolet radiation. This UV radiation can burn your bare skin just like sunlight’s UV radiation can.
Since it’s obvious that you can get sunburn from welding, never avoid the safety precaution. Handling a welding task is always a risk due to the extensive heat, and its continuously emitting UV rays increases the risk multiple times.
Wearing safety gear like a helmet or goggles will give you a more clear view of welding and have a strong bond. In short, wearing safety gear before welding is beneficial all around.