Question 1The American Welding Society space recommendations
The American Welding Society which is normally abbreviated as AWS and has its headquarters in Doral, Florida is an organization dedicated to improving the safety of welding, cutting and hot works in the country and internationally. The organization makes publications in regard to procedures and codes that are up to date with the changing technological advancement. A confined space in a welding environment is described as an area with limited space and the entry and exit points may also be limited. A confined space may also mean an area with poor ventilation which may be hazardous to the people working there due to lack of breathing air and a possible buildup of hazardous fumes. Examples of confined spaces include furnaces, boilers, reactor vessels, unventilated room areas, sewers and silos (Harris & American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2002).
The American Welding society has given the following recommendations when working in a confined space: a permit should be provided for workers when accessing the confined space. A special training on safety is required for all workers entering the confined space. The management should ensure that all covers are open and secured from closing before approving any work in a confined space. There should be a means of turning off gas, power and any other supply into the confined space. A conducive environment with proper oxygen flow and exit for toxic gases should be maintained. Ensure that vents are open and the valves in the confined space are leak proof during hot work. Ensure that all systems that are not required during hot works are locked out or tagged out. Any hazardous material exposed to hot works should be removed or protected to ensure it does not react or explode when heated in a confined space.
During hot works and welding in a confined space the following conditions should be adhered to ensure safety of the workers and equipment are up to the required conditions: proper ventilations and monitoring of air flow into the confined space while ensuring fumes do not exceed safety limits. When there is the potential of exposure to fluorine or beryllium compound in the hot work area, one is required to install a supplied air respiratory protection or a local exhaust ventilation mechanism (Harris & American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2002). The ventilation mechanism ensures that the workers are not exposed to hazardous fumes when operating in a hot work environment. Any unnecessary equipment or personnel should be kept away from the hot works area while also ensuring that the exit and entry points are not blocked. Entry into the confined space should be permitted only to authorized persons only to ensure the area is not crowded.
Chromium and Nickel in Welding Fumes
The welding industry in the country has been an ongoing industrial process that requires some guidelines on the safety and handling of some metals and equipment used. The exposure to some of the fumes emitted by some metals pose a health risk to the user and to the environment. The American Welding Society has been on the fore front to ensuring that workers and other professionals who work in hot works and other welding environment have the necessary information on safety and precaution measures. The following similarities exist between the American Society of Safety Engineers and the American Welding Society recommendations for Nickel and Chromium exposure. Welding is a common practice in many industries and thus care and safety should be adhered to in the prevention of exposure to hazardous materials and gases. Exposure may occur as a result of an explosion or buying of heated compounds in a confined space. Some base metals produce hazardous fumes that may irritate the eye or even the skin of the operator in the welding process. Some of the common metals used in welding or hot works are made of chromium and nickel elements which when combusted produced fumes that may cause irritation to the skin, eyes and respiratory system (Mahmoudi, 2009). Exposure to chromium and Nickel fumes during welding should be controlled if not minimized as they have detrimental effects on the health of the worker.
Several recommendations provided under Chapter 4 of the AWS Safety & Health Facts have proved very useful to workers who operate in welding environments that may be exposed to welding fumes emanating from Chromium and Nickel compounds. Over the years the society has emphasized the need to control the exposure to these fumes in check with International Health Standards (Accredited Standards Committee Z49, Safety in Welding and Cutting., & American Welding Society, 2005). The following are the effects of exposure to such fumes on the health of workers in these welding environments: the fumes cause respiratory irritation coupled with nausea, dizziness and headaches. Prolonged exposure to Chromium and Nickel fumes may result in skin rash or even dermatitis on the worker. Exposure to these fumes poses a health risk to the worker and thus safety precautions need to be carried out in welding and hot works environment to control such exposures. Prolonged exposure more so to the chromium and Nickel fumes may cause death or lead to unconsciousness. There are also the effects on the respiratory tract of the individual which may lead to emphysema.
There exist very little differences between the recommendations made by the American Welding Society and other organizations in regard to Chromium and Nickel fumes exposure. For Example in industries that are prone to noise pollution ear muffs are required for the workers and installing sound proof materials in the confined space. In Chromium and Nickel industries control of exposure to these fumes may involve a proper ventilation in a closed space where welding is being done and proper tracking of fumes and gases by an exhaust arc. One may also be required to keep his or her head out of the welding fumes and keep low exposure to such fumes. Use of safety equipment like gas masks and protective clothing is recommended when working in welding areas. Any corrective measure that is geared towards minimizing these fumes should be encouraged as long as it up to the safety standards (Mahmoudi, 2009). The American Welding Society recommendations in regard to Chromium and Nickel exposure can be compared to other metal fumes that are harmful to the body of the victim. The recommendations range from reduced exposure to ensuring the fumes are controlled well in the confined space so that it does not affect the environment.
As a safety professional in welding environment, I would establish a safety mechanism that seeks to improve the conditions of the workers and their safety when operating the welding equipment. Due to the fact that most welding metals produce fumes when combusted I would initiate a control program to ensure there is minimal exposure to Chromium, Nickel and other welding fumes in industrial process. Some of the areas that would be of great use are to initiate an administrative control that includes offering training on the safety and caution when operating in the closed space. Proper ventilation in the closed space to ensure the workers breathes fresh air while the welding area has a local ventilation to control the exposure of such fumes to the general area. Installation of air purifiers would help in improving the working environment as it would minimize the toxic fumes in the closed space (Jeffus, 2003). Protective clothing for workers working in the closed space should be supplied to ensure respiratory protection and any exposure on the skin or the eyes. Proper use of safety equipment and gear through training and performing safety drills at the work place to sensitize all workers.
Hazards of Thorium
Thoriated Tungsten electrodes are commonly used in welding and they are known to contain a radioactive element by the name thorium which poses a health risk to the user and to the environment. Although thorium material is a low emitting radioactive element, prolonged exposure is a health hazard. The AWS has made several recommendations in regard to the use of thorium material in welding where it emphasizes on great care when dealing with the radioactive element (Jeffus, 2003). Thorium particles when inhaled or ingested may cause internal radiations which may lead to cancer and thus proper safety mechanisms should be applied in welding environments. Although external exposure of the body to the radioactive element is minimal it should be avoided and kept at low levels.
Source of thorium exposure during use of thoriated tungsten electrodes
The use of thoriated tungsten electrodes is common in many welding process due to the fact that they are long lasting and make a good weld that is easier to use. The quality of the electrode makes it a common practice in closed space to use the thorium product in spite of the health risk associated with it. The source of the thorium exposure emanate from the grinding process during sharpening which results in thorium particles and dust. Exposure to these dust particles may lead to internal radiations when inhaled or ingested. During grinding of these electrodes more so when sharpening results in the thorium particles through the process of creating a welding arc (Brink et al, 2009)
What controls to specify?
I would specify the following control mechanisms for the workers operating in a thorium operated welding system. When operating in a welding environment where thoriated tungsten electrodes are used it is important to ensure that the proper procedures which will minimize the risk of exposure are applied. Several controls which include using a high efficiency system for collecting the dust are applied. The dust collection system will ensure that dust particles which result in grinding are collected in a safe place to reduce exposure to workers and the environment (Jeffus, 2003). I would institute a standard operating mechanism full of procedures and rules to be followed in the welding zone. I would recommend a proper training of all employees in the welding and hot works area with up to standard knowledge on how to handle and operate welding materials. Safety procedures should be a responsibility of each member in the industrial process.
Who would have to implement the AWS recommended controls for thorium exposure?
The duty to implement the American welding society recommendations for thorium exposure control should be a collective responsibility for all the stakeholders in the welding business. The risk of exposure to the thorium particles is not limited only to the workers but the particles can find their way into the environment and contaminate water sources and the air around. The particles pose health risks to individuals who exhale them as they are carcinogenic and thus a need to control their exposure to the environment. The management should ensure such risks are minimized and provide safety measures and guidelines to be carried out by the employees (Accredited Standards Committee Z49, Safety in Welding and Cutting., & American Welding Society, 2005). From the management to the workers in the confined welding space each one of them would be required to play his or her role in ensuring the safety measures are followed to letter.
Accredited Standards Committee Z49, Safety in Welding and Cutting., & American Welding Society. (2005). Safety in welding, cutting, and allied processes. Miami, Fla: American Welding Society.
Brink, C. G., McNamara, B., Rademeyer, D., & Swift, P. (2009). Engineering fabrication: Sheet metal work. Cape Town: Pearson Education South Africa.
Harris, M. K., & American Industrial Hygiene Association. (2002). Welding health and safety: A field guide for OEHS professionals. Fairfax, Va: AIHA Press.
Jeffus, L. F. (2003). Welding: Principles and applications. Clifton Park, N.Y: Thomson/Delmar Learning.
Mahmoudi, M. (2009). Challenging cases in allergy and immunology. Dordrecht: Humana Press.