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Welders are exposed to welding gases, heat and UV-radiation. Welding sparks cause injuries and dangerous situations resulting from the ignition of protective clothing. The performance of the protective clothing plays a significant role in the protection against UV-radiation and small splashes of molten metal. The combining of adequate protection and resistance to wear and care has been a challenge for both researchers and manufacturers of protective clothing. The purpose of this study was to investigate welders' own experiences of the risks in their work and the demands they set in normal use on their protective clothing, as well as how well these demands are covered by European standard EN 470-1 for the protective clothing of welders. Flame resistance, durability to washing, tear resistance especially after washing, dimensional change, protection against sparks and molten drops, and flame resistance were the demands most often set on the highest level. Protection in the neck area against UV-radiation and dust, and pockets with closeable flaps were the most often presented demands on the design. The materials in suits perform well when new, but after use and washing the protection level is lowered considerably. The results of this study demonstrate that char formation improves the protection of materials against small splashes of molten metal. However, during the washing process, the char came off, leaving holes in the material, thus decreasing the protection considerably. Washing five times before flammability and welding tests was not found to be sufficient pretreatment. The pretreatment should also include exposure to welding sparks to some extent.
protective clothing, welders
Senior Researcher, Institute of Occupational Health, Vantaa,
Technical Assistant, Institute of Occupational Health, Vantaa,
Research engineer, Institute of Occupational Health, Vantaa,