Becoming a welder can be a childhood dream of some young boys such that they may aspire to learn the skill while growing up, some may even choose it as a profession and career by going further to acquire a formal education for it. Meanwhile, welding is a vast profession that has different categories and types which arc welding is one of them.
It is very important to know the details of any particular category of welding before choosing it as a profession.
However, welding is one of the highly paid professions in the engineering and construction industries. It is also one of the recognized fields in the industry because 80 percent of their activities have to do with welding and fabrication. When I worked with an engineering and construction industry in Bayelsa state, Nigeria the welders were receiving the highest salary more than other departments in the company.
The works of the arc welders in companies involve; pipe welding, structural fabrications, and re-welding of damaged structures, etc. these activities are very vital for companies due to the fact that they are the major activities that the company’s jobs are mostly focused on, that is just the reason welders are given high regard and paid better than other workers.
But notwithstanding the above-mentioned benefit arc welding has its own negative effect or disadvantage, some have been written from the medical perspective by the medical professionals, but I will be writing based on the personal experience I got while working as a welder for the period of one year 2012-2013.
While working as an arc welder it was not a joking affair, the period happens to be one of the most stressful, I had to ensure that my adequate medication and health is maintained by visiting the company’s clinic regularly.
Becoming an arc welder requires a good medical record, good health, and physical strength, alongside a sound mind, I will list the side effects I did experience during those periods, they were;
REGULAR VISION PROBLEM
If you want to become a welder for a very long time then it is important to plan on how to take good care of your eyes. Experience had shown me during the period I worked as an arc welder that any day I weld more than six hours I will have vision problem the following morning and this is usually common if I made any mistake of sparking the electrodes on metal surfaces during the six hours without putting on the welding glasses or welding mask.
The vision impairment would look like cloud covering your vision such that you may not be able to have a clear view. The first time I experienced it, I took an eyes drop that helped for the treatment, but later I also discovered that without putting the eyes drop the vision may still come back to normal but such will take up to seven hours in the following day, but I do not need to go to work any day with clouded vision for seven hours for that reason any day I did lots of welding works I will simply apply the eyes drop before going to bed, this will enable my vision to become normal the following day.
Some may attribute this aspect to lack of experience but it may not be true, getting burn in the skin is an experience every welder gets irrespective of how many years the individual might have been a welder. The company will always provide a very thick leather hand gloves for welders but that does not guarantee their total safety in getting burn in their palm, the company may also provide special coverall for welders but that does not guarantee the possibility of the welders not getting burn on their skin, same goes for safety shoes.
The total safety of a welder depends on the working habits of the welder, so the skin burn during arc welding could come from the hot sparks of molten metal that gained access into the skin through spaces like button, neck collar, wrist collar, safety boats cover, etc. Another skin problem is the forming of skin scale and burnt color appearance on the skin, it occurs mostly at the face especially if the welder does not usually cover the face or use welding mask during the welding activities.
Burn on the palm usually occur when a particular leather hand glove had been used for welding works for a longer period of time than supposed. When hand glove is used its protective strength reduces as the days progresses such that the usual hot temperature metals that the welder don’t normally feel when they were touched, will suddenly become hot and able to cause burn on the palm of the welder because of their closeness created by the hand grove caused by weakness or holes in it,i.e., it is usually possible when the hand grove had created open holes which mostly occur on the thumb side, for this reason it can be said that the thumb has higher tendency of getting burn than other parts of the palm.
MINORS CUTS ON THE SKIN
Though this can be recorded as accident in the company but some cuts are not noticeable even to the individual that has it, such cut can only be known after the whole day working activities, when the person takes a bath then notice the sharp pain of minor cuts, such is the experience with most welders the edge of sharp metals can create such minor cuts through the coverall. Even the sparks that failed on the skin could join in contributing to such pain.
Another experience is dehydration, I remembered vividly that every week most welders visit the company’s clinic to obtain treatment,in fact,welder were usually given two weeks leave to visit a hospital for treatment on dehydration in any severe situation. The truth is that a lot of heat is involve during welding activities and as a result of that is causes excess sweat and evaporation of body fluid such that most active welders use to drink lots of water but even at that we were told to drink “SPRITE MIXED WITH SALT” regularly while also visiting the clinic once in a week, in some cases of such visit some will be given drips.
WEAKNESS & FATIGUE
Every job can cause weakness and fatigue depending on the stress involved but being frank in my own experience I see welding works being more stressful than other jobs I had involved in the past. I observed that each day lots of welding activities takes place, I usually find it difficult to do any domestic activity at home such as preparing meals, cooking and other works, there use to be a huge weakness and hunger such that I may just visit any nearby restaurant and take my dinner, then back home take my bath and straight to bed. Such is the little experience in that regard.
Generally, arc welding has advantages to anyone who ventures into it especially its financial aspect, but this post had been focused on the personal experience while working as a welder and if you have additional experience, question, contribution, and suggestions the comment form is open below this article for you to make, because it may also be useful to other readers.