Use Care with Compressed Air

A mechanic with a small cut on his hand washed some machine parts in a solvent. To dry them, he held the parts in a compressed air stream. A few minutes later he told his supervisor he “felt like his body was going to explode!”

Handling Gas Cylinders

How many of you realize how dangerous gas cylinders can be? Let me give you an example.

A workman was unloading cylinders from a delivery truck. On one cylinder the valve was not protected by a cover. The workman rolled this cylinder to the hydraulic tailgate lift. Just as he stepped onto the tailgate, the cylinder slipped from his grasp and fell. The valve struck the ground and broke off. The full cylinder shot up like a rocket and smashed the workman’s face as it headed for the wild blue yonder. The cylinder was found a quarter of a mile away from the job! The workman died a few hours later in a hospital. Cylinders have been known to plow through brick walls.



Check the protective valve cover. The cap should be in place and secure. Never use this cover to lift the cylinder. Be sure the valve is closed. (Also, be sure the valves are closed when work is finished or cylinders are empty.) Never move cylinders when regulators are attached unless the cylinders are secured in a cylinder truck. Otherwise, remove the regulator and put on a protective valve cap. Regulators have a nasty habit of breaking off if they are bumped hard. If cylinders are frozen together during cold weather, the safest way to thaw them loose without damaging them is to use warm (not boiling) water. Never use pry bars for this job.



Move cylinders by slightly tilting them, then rolling them on the bottom edges. Take care not to let them drop or strike other cylinders or objects. Never use choker slings or magnets to hoist cylinders, since the chance of the cylinder failing is great. Hoist cylinders by using a cradle or pallet, making sure the cylinders are secure before the hoist. The workman we mentioned earlier probably didn’t have a firm grip on the cylinder when it slipped. Perhaps his hands or gloves were greasy or oily. This mistake cost him his life. Don’t you make the same mistake. Keep a firm grip on cylinders all of the time.



If cylinders are close to welding or cutting operations, place a fire resistant shield between the cylinders and these operations. In that way sparks, hot slag or flames won’t be able to reach them. To keep standing cylinders from being knocked over, chain or tie them to a column or to something else that’s secure. This goes for both full and empty cylinders. Even an empty cylinder can cause a lot of damage if it falls on you. Take the same precautions when handling empty cylinders that you would with full ones. The reason? A cylinder you may think is empty could be full. And the excuse “I didn’t know it was loaded” is a poor one. When using different types of gas; segregate cylinders containing one kind of gas from another.




When handled or stored incorrectly, a cylinder can go up like a rocket. And, as we have seen, it not only can cause property damage, but death. Use common sense and good judgment, and keep cylinder accidents down.



Welding Fires

0n of the worst factory fires in history was started by sparks from a portable welding outfit, which ignited liquid in a conveyor drip pan. The French liner, Normandie, which was being refitted to carry troops during World War II, was destroyed by a fire when welding sparks fell into waste wood and excelsior. An aircraft carrier fire in the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1960 was started by welding sparks and slag failing into spilled motor fuel.

In each case, there either was inadequate protection or no protection of the flammable material from flame and sparks. The ships were steel, but filled with flammable material. The factory was steel, concrete, and glass, but contained flammable fixtures, stock, and process material. Practically any- thing can burn and be damaged if it gets hot enough. And there’s plenty of oil, grease, and other combustible materials on any construction site in addition to the lumber and scrap.



Fires from welding operations are started by sparks, hot slag, and flame from the torch. Sparks often drop or are carried long distances by the wind. Slag falls on surfaces or materials below. And a welding torch flame can ignite many substances within a radius of several feet. Be familiar with the standard safety rules for welding so you can spot and report any problems.



When a welding operation moves into a work area, it’s primarily the welders’ duty to guard against fire. This means making sure there’s no flammable material within range of the flame. Wood, paper or other combustibles should be removed. The welders also are responsible to see that no sparks or slag fall on combustible materials. Keep extinguishing materials, such as water or sand, on hand if you must weld near combustibles. You may even find it necessary to assign a worker with a fire extinguisher to stand by and put out sparks.



Welders should not begin working in any area where there are flammable liquids before checking with the supervisor. If you have to weld or touch any tank or drum that has contained flammable liquids or gas, don’t start your work until an approved test shows that there’s no danger of vapors present. Don’t take anyone’s word that the tank or drum was tested previously. Insist on a test just before starting your work.



Where floors are combustible, welders must place fire resistant material beneath the work area, so that hot slag cannot contact the floor. Wood floors should be swept clean before welding over them, and should be covered with metal or some other material that won’t burn. In some cases, it is advisable to wet the floor down. But remember that this adds a shock hazard, which must be guarded against if you are arc welding. Be sure there are no cracks into which sparks or slag may fall, and never allow this hot material to fall into concealed spaces between walls and floors.

You may have to protect openings, such as open doorways, with a non-combustible curtain. Be sure this curtain reaches to the floor, so that the hot slag can’t roll under it. Ask yourself also if wind can carry sparks or slag over the side and down onto storage areas or adjacent property.



Welders must keep cylinders a safe distance from where they are working, which means that hoses must be completely uncoiled. You should keep the tanks and hoses behind you, never in front where flame, heat, or slag will strike them. Hoses must be protected to keep trucks from running

over them, and people from walking into them or dragging things across them. Cylinders must be properly secured when in use and the caps in place during transportation.



Good ventilation is a must for all welding operations. Many of these operations produce fumes that are harmful in heavy concentrations, and good ventilation is the only method of protecting yourself against this hazard. Screens around your work must be placed so as not to prevent good air circulation. Sometimes special ventilating equipment is necessary. If you have any doubt about the adequacy of ventilation on a job, ask the supervisor for his opinion. Don’t weld in a small room or tank or other closed place without first making sure the ventilation is good.

When welders leave their equipment or stop work, they must shut off the oxygen and acetylene at the cylinders, so that no gas can enter either hose. And, of course, the rule for everyone except the welders is: “Hands Off All Welding Gear.”



Eye protection is necessary on all welding jobs, and full face protection is needed on many jobs. The type of protection you’ve been told to wear on your operations has been proven necessary by experience.

Face and eye protection are needed in many operations performed by welders besides actual cutting and welding. That’s why, for instance, electric welders need goggles as well as the regular helmet. Any welder may have to do a good deal of chipping. And this work, usually done with the helmet raised, can throw particles of metal into your eyes.

Basically, however, eye protection is designed to protect you against sparks, slag, molten metal, and flash burns caused by radiation from the welding equipment. If you follow the rules for wearing face and eye protection you won’t have any face and eye injuries from cutting or welding work.



Remember that preventing welding fires is everyone’s responsibility, whether doing the actual welding or not.