Welders and respiratory protection
As you are aware, all welders should be wearing some form of respiratory protection. This can range from disposable or reusable P2 half face masks, to powered air respiratory protection or supplied air respiratory protection.
The forms of respiratory protection listed above will all give you a level of protection against biological aerosols containing viruses or bacteria. This means, if worn correctly, a welder wearing a suitable welding respirator will be getting a level of protection against the airborne transmission of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
As a welder, you are in a unique position. What you wear at work can protect you from the COVID-19 virus. This is good news for welders but also great news for industry, the economy and the nation. If we are going to make it through these tough times, welders will play a crucial role in keeping the economy going and rebuilding the economy after the dust settles. As a welder, you’re used to keeping things together, performing maintenance and rebuilding. On this occasion, however, you’ll be applying those skills to the economy.
It’s important to note that if the filter is exposed to an infective particulate such as COVID-19, the filter itself then becomes a potential source of infection. While the infected filter will continue to offer the wearer protection, the infected surfaces should not be touched or handled without gloves and at some point, must be carefully discarded.
When using reusable, powered or supplied air respirators, contaminants are not only concentrated on the filter/cartridge itself, they can also collect on other surfaces of the system. As a result, consideration needs to be given to the procedures and practices used for cleaning respirators exposed to the virus.
Making the switch to powered air
In 2017, the International Agency for Research on Cancer reclassified welding fume as carcinogenic to humans. Since the reclassification, there has been a huge push towards welding powered air purifying respirators. If you have not yet made the switch, this is an opportunity to not only keep your welders safe from welding fume, it’s also a way to protect against the airborne transmission of COVID-19 and keep your welding shop operating.
Australia needs welders to keep working!
Sorry all, drinking milk will not protect you from COVID-19, just like it will not protect you from the dangers of welding fume.