Safety Requirements For Welding Zincanneal
11 Nov 09
This is an approriate knowledge bank topic as it is one ManufactureLink has been asked many times. "What are the safety requirements for welding zincanneal?"
The short answer to this question is that welding of zincanneal requires some sort of fume extraction or respertory protection if this is not possible (more details below). But the fact that this question itself has been asked of us so many times raises an interesting discussion in workplace safety in general and why the question required raising.
Most of the time this question has been asked of us by a workshop floor supervisor and this is a good pointer to why the issue has come up, and most of us will be familiar with the following scenario.
A manufacturing company has announced a new workplace health and safety policy and perhaps hired a new workplace health and safety officer to implement the policy. A grand announcement is made in front of the company workforce and everybody is told they must formally report any potential hazards they see so they can be dealt with so nobody gets hurt.
The welding supervisor knows from the smell that welding of galvanised steels like zincanneal tends to give off fumes. So doing what he is told, he reports this as a hazard. But rather than accepting the potential hazard exists and doing something to reduce the safety risk, the boss tells him he has welded zincanneal for 30 years and never suffered any health issues so he shouldn't worry about it. Unsatisfied with this response, the welding supervisor searches the internet for some evidence of the hazard and eventually ends up asking ManufactureLink for assistance in backng his claim.
This scenrio raises the point in identifying safety hazzards. With potential tripping, falling, cutting, slipping hazards etc, the problem itself is easy to assess because it can be physically seen. Not so with the safety hazards from handling or processing materials. For many materials such as this example with zincanneal, there is no way to know for sure if a hazard exists without checking properly. It is the company's duty of care to investigate any possible risks thoroughly rather than dismissing them on anecdotal evidence. Whatsmore, Material Safety Data Sheets or MSDS are required to be provided by the manufacturer of any material to make the process of identifying hazards simple.
Just because one person has experienced no adverse effects from handling or processing a material doesn't mean there won't be any longer term effects that have yet to manifest themselves. It takes very little effort to locate a MSDS for the materials you are using, so there is no excuse for not assessing a risk properly.
Safety Requirements for Welding of Zincanneal
So back to answering the original question. The safety requirements for welding zinc coated steels, zincanneal, or welding of hot dip galvanised steels are firstly governed by common sense, and secondly by the national Occupational Health and Safety Regulations and the state Workplace Health and Safety Regulations. You don't need to leaf through the legislation to know that if a hazzard is identified, then the employer or business owner is obligated to do whatever they can to eliminate or at least reduce the risk. The reason you have formal hazard reporting processes in place is that this is your record that the hazard was identified and the steps you took to reduce the risk. Or in some cases, your lack of taking steps to reduce the risk.
In the case of welding zincanneal, is there an actual risk that needs to be reduced? Yes there is. The MSDS states as follows: 'For welding or cutting operations and acid dissolution work, the use of engineering controls may be necessary to maintain air concentrations below the relevant National Exposure Standards'. The MSDS also states that if exposed to fumes from welding, you should remove yourself to fresh air.
You can download the Bluescope Steel material safety data sheet for zincanneal on the following link:
Material Safety Data Sheet for Zincanneal
So while it isn't particularly dangerous stuff to weld, the MSDS still tells you there is some sort of hazard from the fumes given off when welding. So common sense tells you that you are required to do something to reduce the possibility of inhaling the fumes such as fume extraction or respertory protection.
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