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Dangers of welding fumes

Pennsylvania welders need to understand the dangers involved with exposure to the toxic substances contained in welding smoke and fumes. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration states that numerous dangerous byproducts, including arsenic, hydrogen fluoride, lead,manganese, carbon monoxide, nitrogen, argon, aluminum and beryllium are often contained in welding fumes and may result in serious harm to workers.

OSHA states that even short-term exposure can irritate the worker's eyes, nose and throat or leave him or her feeling nauseous or dizzy. With exposure over long periods of time, workers may develop lung, urinary tract or laryngeal cancers. Exposures that happen over longer periods of time may result in cancer of the urinary tract, lungs and larynx.

The agency recommends that employees be taught about the dangers of exposure to welding fumes so that they understand the risks. Employers should mandate frequent cleaning of surfaces that may have toxic substances build up on them. They should also make certain to have good exhaust ventilation systems installed in all indoor areas where welding work is performed. Workers should avoid welding jobs that require them to weld in unventilated confined spaces, and when they are welding outdoors, they should try to stay upwind of the fumes at all times. They should be provided with the proper respiratory equipment, which they should use every time they are welding.

In addition to covering on-the-job injuries, workers' compensation can also provide benefits to people who have incurred an occupational illness as a result of harmful toxic exposure. As it might be difficult in some cases to connect the illness to working conditions, however, those who are in this position may want to have the assistance of counsel when preparing their claims.

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