8 Underwater Welding Safety Tips

Many different safety concerns need to be taken into consideration when welding underwater. Maintaining buoyancy, ensuring breathing gas purity and adequate ventilation, and avoiding injury from flash fires are just a few of the dangers of working under these unique conditions. Commercial diving companies like Southern Divers Melbourne ensures all safety measures are observed. Underwater welding safety tips include:

1. Maintain Buoyancy

When working underwater, it is essential to maintain buoyancy. In many cases, divers will wear an airtight wetsuit and SCUBA equipment and carry a buoyant object that can be used for propulsion and balance. For short-distance travel from the surface to the work site, divers might use a “hookah rig,” a hose connected to the surface. This allows for airflow and respiration when needed.

2. Use Breathing Cylinders Wisely

Breathing cylinders are essential when working under the water but should be used sparingly due to the expense of filling them and their weight. For example, breathing cylinders are often used during welding operations to supply oxygen to the welder. While putting air into a welding cylinder will increase its pressure and allow for a longer duration of use, this can also lead to dangerous situations if extra pressure is not delivered into the torch itself.

3. Have an Emergency Plan

When working underwater, it is imperative to have an emergency plan in place in case something goes wrong. Emergency procedures should include contacting the dive site employees in case of emergency or malfunctioning equipment. It is also essential to have an inventory of emergency equipment such as oxygen tanks, spare welding rods, gas cylinders, gloves, and other personal safety items.

4. Avoid Smoking

Employees working underwater may be tempted to light up a cigarette, but the dangers associated with this action are huge! If they fail to extinguish the flame, they will be breathing second-hand smoke, which poses a health risk and can cause serious harm to their bodies and lungs if inhaled for an extended period.

5. Maintain a Safe Distance from the Welder

The distance between an electrician or welder and the work site must be maintained to prevent accidents and injuries. Any time an employee is positioned close to the welding torch or electrodes, it is recommended that a clear piece of plastic or glass be placed between the person and the work area.

Equipment such as oxygen and water hoses should also be spaced apart from other electrical components to prevent short circuits and sparks.

6. Beware of Flash Fires

Flash fires are hazardous, especially during intense welding operations, and are often caused by improper welding procedures, poor weld quality, or simply mishandling the torch. Flash fire can occur from producing too much heat in a confined space.

Flash fires are caused by the heat produced from welding components, gas cylinders, torches, or even human bodies getting too close to the electrode.

7. Monitor Oxygen Levels

If you are cutting oxygen, then your dive time will be limited. Before diving, set your dive’s depth and duration and ensure you know how much oxygen you will use. This is especially true when working in cold water, as many divers do not know how much oxygen they will need until they get to the site.

  1. Avoid Heat Exhaustion

When working underwater for long periods, hypothermia is possible; therefore, your body will produce heat to prevent you from getting too cold. But it is essential to monitor your temperature carefully. Any heating system, such as warm clothes or heating lamps, should be used sparingly due to the high cost of maintaining a heated environment while underwater. It is essential not to overheat yourself as this can lead to heat exhaustion and other serious health problems.

It is essential to take the necessary precautions and always follow the safety procedure when working underwater. Although many safety tips outlined above may appear conspicuous or straightforward, they are often overlooked. They can make all the difference in preventing accidents or injuries while working underwater.

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