Welding Safety Basics:

Primary Risk Ultraviolet Light Radiation:

The most basic hazard encountered while welding is from ultraviolet-light (a form of radiation) burns to the eyes.  Your skin is also to a lesser degree at risk.  This hazard is present when performing TIG, stick, plasma-arc and wire-feed welding as well.  The burns received from welders are similar to a sunburn, except deeper into the tissue.  

Prevention of Ultraviolet-light Burns:

The primary solution to prevent skin burns is to simply cover your skin.  You should wear long sleeves, and pants made of material that can handle a spark and doesn’t allow light to pass through.  Professionals on job sites typically layer their apparel, opting for more comfortable fitness-type clothes underneath, covered by wool, FR clothing and the like.  

Leather overcoats, aprons are common when welding as well.  

For complete protection, do not forget your neck and wrists.  Button your shirt up to protect your neck.  Tuck sleeves of your shirt into your gloves.  You may also get a welding helmet that has a flap or covers your neck completely.  

Do not forget gloves.  Your hands and wrists will be the closest to the weld, most likely to be injured.  OSHA doesn’t have a detailed specification for welding gloves but does point you to guidance from the National Ag Safety Database (NASD):

NASD suggests “Leather gauntlet gloves.”

There are 2 European standards that also apply to  welding gloves- EN407 and EN12477.  

EN407:  This standard applies 6 tests against the gloves to test effectiveness when welding.

1- Limited flame spread

2- Contact heat resistance

3- Convective heat resistance

4- Radiant heat resistance

5- Resistance to small splashes of molten metal

6- Resistance to large splashes of molten metal

EN12477: This standard looks at heat risks as well as mechanical and gloves can meet 2 different versions of this standard Type A and Type B.

Type A: Provides high degree of protection against heat but are not flexible.

Type B: Provides lower degree of protection against heat but are flexible.  

There are many high quality welding glove options on the market.  If you are unsure of which gloves to purchase, consider gloves that meet either EN407 or EN12477 until you learn more about your preferences.