Did you know welders have an injury rate 100 times higher than that of the average worker? Welders also have a high risk of death, with nearly four in 1,000 welders sustaining fatal injuries. If you or a loved one have been injured in construction or welding accidents, learn how the New York accident attorneys at The Coppola Firm can help you get more from your personal injury case.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Welding Accidents?
Construction accidents are classified as personal injury accidents that may also qualify for workers’ compensation if you are a full-time employee and get injured in the normal course of your job. But in some construction accidents, there may be an injury claim against someone other than your employer. Some of the most common causes of welding accidents that cause serious injuries include the following.
Welding equipment, such as that used in arc welding, makes use of high-voltage electricity. The arc welding process creates an electrical arc to fuse molten metal together. You can suffer a primary electric shock if you touch the machine components at the same time as grounded metal. You may also suffer a secondary shock from touching an electrode circuit. Secondary shock is more common, but either form can result in devastating and even lethal electrocution.
Exposure to Fumes and Gases
Because welding work involves melting metals, welders are often exposed to a variety of toxic fumes. The damage from these fumes depends on the length of exposure and the chemical composition of the metals being melted. Some of the most common metals that produce harmful welding fumes include manganese, lead, beryllium, arsenic, and aluminum.
Besides metal, construction workers on a welding site may encounter a range of dangerous chemicals. Harm from exposure can range from metal fume fever to death. This is why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires safety precautions, including proper personal protective equipment (PPE) such as respirators when performing these tasks.
Construction sites are loud, and factories where welding procedures are performed are often noisy, with high-decibel sounds going on constantly. OSHA regulates the noise level for any work environment with noise above 90 decibels, which is the same thing as standing within 10 feet of a jet engine. Excessive noise in the work area can result not only in permanent hearing loss, but even cancer, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure.
Eye injuries are a common risk for welders. Welding torches are exceptionally bright, and welder’s flash can blind a worker, temporarily or permanently. Welders are also exposed constantly to ultraviolet and infrared radiation as well as visible light. Ultraviolet light in particular can be very dangerous to the eyes. Once again, OSHA requires PPE including helmets with visors, heavy gloves, jackets, and pants to fully cover all skin and the face.
Fires and Explosions
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that around 40% of injuries on construction sites that involve machines or equipment result from explosions and fire. When the flammable materials, vapors, or gases in welding interact with high temperatures or electrical sparks and combine with oxygen in the air, they can explosively ignite. When welding is performed in a confined area, the risk only increases.
What we call welding sparks are actually a form of spatter from molten hot metal that the welding process flings into the air. Whether they strike exposed skin or flammable surfaces, welding sparks are a primary cause of many accidents on welding and construction sites. This can cause burn injuries.
Anyone who works with metal is experienced with the risks of conductive heat. Metal heats up quickly whether it is machine parts, sheet metal, nuts and bolts, or any other metal surface. Special gloves must be worn during welding to handle this hot metal, with glove performance based on the expected surface temperature.
If you are a welder working in New York and you have developed severe injuries from your job, the experienced personal injury attorneys at The Coppola Firm may be able to help. Call our law firm at 716-839-9700 or use our online contact form to request a free consultation.
What Are Some Common Welding Injuries?
Welders can sustain many different types of injuries. The heat, equipment, and conditions on a job site open them to a wealth of daily dangers.
Hand injuries can occur from a variety of sources. Welding equipment and the metal that is fused together can be heavy, resulting in crushing injuries if it falls. Cuts from sheet metal can also occur. Even a little exposed skin can experience severe burns that may scar and even cripple the hand.
Repetitive Strain Injuries
Welders do the same things over and over again every day. This sort of repetitive motion can lead to injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, which is a neurological disorder resulting from repeated pressure on the median nerve. Other repetitive strain injuries, or RSIs, include tendinopathy, bursitis, and tennis elbow.
Burns are possibly the most common type of injury suffered by people working on welding sites. The sheer potential for heat from electrical arcs, hot metal, and open fire is vast. If welders are not wearing proper PPE, they can open themselves up to debilitating and even fatal burns.
Arc welders use electricity to fuse two pieces of metal together. This opens the door for electrical shocks. When one suffers a shock, be it primary or secondary, from an arc welder, the results can be life-threatening and debilitating. Even one who survives such a shock can experience nerve damage and require lifelong medical care.
Inhalation of smoke and toxic fumes from chemicals and molten metal can result in many types of lung damage. Lung cancer can even result from long-term exposure to these fumes.
One of the most serious eye injuries welders suffer is a flash burn. This occurs from the brilliant flash that results when the welding torch fuses metal together. It causes inflammation of the cornea if one looks at the sparks without proper eye protection.
The loud noises that occur on a construction site or in welding factories can do measurable damage to hearing. This damage may be temporary but is often permanent. Workers wear PPE to protect against the damage, but even that is not always enough.
Constant exposure to liquid metal, fumes, and toxic chemicals and substances is part of a welder’s job. Even with the proper protective equipment, workers in this field often see an increased risk of many different types of cancer, from lung cancer and mesothelioma to brain cancer and beyond.
What Types of Welding Cause the Most Accidents?
The most common type of welding accident arises from oxy-fuel gas welding. In this type of welding, the gas flame used to fuse metals can easily explode. Spot welding can cause serious burns. Arc welding can cause serious injuries, specifically electrical shocks and eye injuries. Other types of accidents arise from the following subtypes of arc welding.
Stick welding is a type of arc welding that uses an electrical current that arcs between metal and electrodes. This arc can easily cause electrical shocks and burns. Stick welding has an accident rate three times that of other types of welding.
MIG welding is a type of stick welding that uses a wire electrode that runs through the welding gun. This electrode can easily be consumed while welding, resulting in injuries when the tool breaks down.
TIG welding is a form of stick welding that uses tungsten electrodes, which are not consumable. Because of this, TIG welding is more accurate and uses less heat, but it is a slower process that has issues where it can deposit metal. Impatience can sometimes lead to injuries as a result.
How Do You Prevent Welding Accidents?
Your employer is responsible for protecting you from welding injuries, and OSHA has very strict regulations in place to maintain workplace safety. The best way to protect yourself is to obey all safety policies, wear your PPE exactly as it is supposed to be worn, and police yourself and other workers. If you see something or someone that represents an unsafe work practice or condition, report it. Proper training, tool use, and protective equipment are the best defenses against work accidents.
Why Should I Hire The Coppola Firm as My New York Personal Injury Lawyers?
If you are in a situation where you can no longer perform your current job because you suffered a serious injury, hiring an attorney greatly improves your chances of receiving fair compensation. Construction work, including welding, is among the most dangerous occupations in the world, with the Department of Labor estimating that 26% of all worker deaths in New York are from construction-related jobs.
The Coppola Firm is a woman-owned law firm with a team that brings many decades of combined experience in personal injury law to the table. We are compassionate attorneys who treat every client like a member of our family. We know how the law works, and we are ready to help. We can help you avoid critical mistakes, gather evidence for your case, and stand up for your right to compensation. We will be the dedicated ally you need when you need us.
Do Not Get Burned by a Low Settlement. Let Us Fight for You!
If you have suffered a welding accident on the job site, do not settle for a lowball offer from the insurance company. Let The Coppola Firm stand up for your right to the fair compensation you deserve. Contact us today at 716-839-9700 or fill in our contact form to schedule a free case evaluation.