According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 107,400 working days were lost between March 2018 and March 2019 due to workplace injuries. Lost workdays can put a significant dent in a business’ output and eventual yield, but if welders are amply protected these are easily avoidable. Speedglas welding helmets can be instrumental in keeping welders safe and fit to work as much as possible: here are the 5 levels of protection they can provide!
The Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety recently reported that ¼ of welding related injuries are of the eye, making them by far the most common injury for welders. This is hardly surprising given the welding process generates hazardous ultraviolet/infrared radiation and (intense) visible light that can in turn cause permanent eye damage. With all that said, however, 90% of these injuries are entirely preventable with the proper protection in place.
Speedglas released the first ever auto-darkening welding helmet in 1981 to eliminate the need to constantly lift the helmet, thus reducing exposure to harmful UV/IR radiation that could occur through accidentally striking an arc or being exposed to the arcs of nearby welders. Today Speedglas welding lenses remain fully compliant with national standards for eye protection (AS/NZS 1338.1), featuring Auto On technology to be instantly ready to weld and programmed to your last used setting the second an arc is struck. This allows welders to keep their welding helmet in the safe, down position at all times, fully negating the risk of arc flash and radiation exposure.
The ability to keep your helmet down at all times also feeds into effective protection against physical hazards such as welding spatter and grinding particles. Speedglas welding helmets all meet the Australian & New Zealand Standard for high impact face protection (AS/NZS1337.1), with outer cover lenses that are available in scratch resistant and high heat variations. Furthermore, the signature silver front on a Speedglas welding helmet is not just a design feature; it also serves to reflect heat from the weld and keep the welder cool and comfortable.
It’s easy to underestimate the point at which surrounding noise becomes damaging to your ears - too loud may be less loud than you think. The widely accepted ‘harmful’ level is 85 decibels and over, and many noises around your workplace will cross this threshold: metal falling on metal, hammers banging metal into place and other sudden noisy spikes that routinely occur throughout a working day. Sustained exposure to these harmfully loud noises can in turn cause permanent damage in the form of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL).
Fortunately, welders have plenty of effective options when it comes to hearing protection; keeping your ears safe while still enabling you to hear warning sounds in an emergency. Plus, several earmuffs offering the highest possible level of protection will also fit under, or attach to, your Speedglas welding helmet (e.g. the 3M™ Peltor™ H505B Earmuffs). Once applied, these earmuffs can only properly serve their purpose if worn at all times; wearing them for 90% of your day is essentially equivalent to not wearing them at all, so be sure to keep them on!
From 2016-17, 3,455 serious head injury claims were reported in Australia alone: of that number, 1,125 related directly to the part of the skull that encloses the brain. Subsequently, many workplaces will require the use of standardised head protection: this will not only prevent serious head trauma but also minor injuries that may cause memory loss, sleep disorders and could threaten your long term wellbeing.
Speedglas has 2 state of the art welding helmets that offer standardised head protection. On the one hand there’s the 9100 QR (part no. 503626), which boasts a smooth Quick-Release mechanism to easily attach or remove the welding shield from the hard hat when necessary (even with gloved hands). Alternatively, the 9100 MP Air (part no. 577726) includes an integrated safety helmet made from heat-resistant polycarbonate. Both helmets are fully compliant with the Australian and New Zealand Standard for head protection (AS/NZS1801), enabling you to weld with the utmost confidence in your safety.
Pictured: 9100XXi MP Air
Since welding fume was reclassified as “carcinogenic” in early 2017, there continue to be new developments in the study of short and long term effects of welding fume exposure. A 2019 statistical analysis concluded that welders have a ‘43% increased risk of lung cancer regardless of the type of steel welded, the welding process or time period.’
With all that said, protecting welders is easy. The use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as the 3M™ Adflo™ Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) can help to minimise welding fume exposure. Speedglas welding helmets with Adflo PAPR supply air that is a minimum 50 times cleaner than the welder would otherwise be breathing unprotected: it’s no surprise, then, that welders across Australia and New Zealand have been upgrading in droves in recent years!
 Source: Safe Work Australia, Australian workers’ Compensation Statistics 2016-2017
 Source: Honaryar MK, Lunn RM, Luce D, et al. Occup Environ Med, Welding Fume and lung cancer: a meta-analysis of case control and cohort studies, April 2019