Environmental Health and Safety

Safety Programs > Welding and Cutting Safety


Welding and Cutting Safety

1. Purpose


SUNY New Paltz is dedicated to the protection of our employees from occupational injuries and illnesses. SUNY New Paltz is responsible for providing a safe working environment, and the employees have and must assume the responsibility of working safely.

The objective of this program is to supplement our safety policy by providing specific standards regarding Welding and Cutting and to ensure that each employee is adequately trained and fully aware of safety procedures associated with such work.

Welding and Hot Work, such as brazing or grinding presents a significant opportunity for fire and injury. Company employees or contractors must apply all precautions of this program prior to commencing any welding or hot work. Reference: OSHA 29 CFR 1910.252

Elimination of injuries and illnesses improves employee morale, improves customer service, improves product quality, and reduces Workers' Compensation costs. This policy serves as a tool to increase employee protection, and to reduce jobsite hazards.

2. Policy


Anyone performing welding/cutting/grinding or any other form of hot work in any building or upon the grounds owned, leased, rented or operated by SUNY New Paltz shall adhere to the policies set forth here and in the Fire Safety SUNY New Paltz Hot Work Program (separate policy found in the Fire Safety Manual). Any discrepancies or contradictions between these policies shall be brought to the attention of the SUNY New Paltz EH&S prior to starting the work.

Note: It is important that all employees have a means of communication to summons emergency aide through the campus 911 system especially when the welding or hot work procedure is remote from campus phones


3. Responsibilities:


Supervisors- ensure employees who perform welding/cutting brazing activities have read and understood the requirements set forth in this policy. Periodic review of welding and cutting operations shall be done by Supervisors to ensure employees are following the requirements of this policy. Ensure employees have meet the training requirements set forth in this policy and have documentation/certification records on file.

Employees- must follow the requirements of this policy, report accidents and near misses in regards to this policy and others to supervisor and follow the accident and emergency reporting policy of SUNY New Paltz.

Environmental Health and Safety- (EH&S) Periodic review and update of this policy to ensure effectiveness.

4. Welding Personal Protective Equipment Use


A. Respirators vs mechanical ventilation

Adequate ventilation is when the ventilation is of sufficient capacity and so arranged as to remove fumes and smoke at the source and keep their concentration in the breathing zone within safe limits as defined in OSHA PEL's (See EH&S for more information on Subpart D of Part 1926, Occupational Health and Environmental Controls).

If working with toxic metals or ventilation is insufficient then appropriate respiratory protection such as N-95 respirators must be worn. Employee must have training and a medical evaluation as outlined in the SUNY Respirator Program in order to wear a respirator.


B. Protective Clothing

Fire retardant clothing shall be worn by employees engaged in burning or welding operations.


C. Hand and Face

For arc operations the helmets or goggles and gloves shall be made of a material which is an insulator for heat and electricity. Helmets, shields and goggles shall not be readily flammable and shall be capable of withstanding cleaning. Helmets shall be provided that protect face, neck and ears from direct radiant energy from the arc.


D. Eye Protection

Goggles shall be ventilated to prevent fogging. Lens glass shall be tempered, substantially free from flaws. Lenses shall bear distinctive markings to readily identify source and shade. The following shade chart shall be followed:


Operation Electrode Diameter Number of Eye Shade
Shielded Metal-Arc Welding 1/16 inch, 3/32 inch, 1/8 inch, 5/32 inch  10
Gas-Shielded Arc Welding (non-ferros) 1/16 inch, 3/32 inch, 1/8 inch, 5/32 inch  11
Shielded Metal-Arc Welding  3/16 inch, 7/32 inch, 1/4 inch  12
"            "         "      "   5/16 inch, 3/8 inch  14
Carbon Arc Welding    14
Torch Brazing    3 or 4
Light Cutting , up to 6 inches    3 or 4
Medium Cutting up to 6 inches    4 or 5
Heavy Cutting, 6 inches or larger    5 or 6
Gas Welding (light) 1/8 inch  4 or 5
Gas Welding (medium) 1/8 inch to 1/2 inch  5 or 6
Gas Welding (heavy 1/2 inch and over  6 or 8


For gas welding or oxygen cutting that produces a high intensity yellow light, it is desirable to use a filter or lens that absorbs the yellow or sodium line.


5. Welding, Cutting, and Brazing General Procedures


• Prior to any work involving welding, brazing, or cutting, an assessment of the fire alarm control system must be made to prevent inadvertent activation of that system. If a fire system impairment is needed, follow the procedures outlined in the Fire Safety HOT Work and Fire system impairment policy (See Fire Safety Manual for more details).

• Where practicable all combustibles will be relocated at least 35 feet from the work site.

• Where relocation is impractical, combustibles must be protected with flameproof covers, shielded with metal, guards, curtains, or wet down to help prevent ignition of material.

• Ducts, conveyor systems, and augers that might carry sparks to distant combustibles must be protected or shut down.

• Where cutting or welding is done near walls, partitions, ceilings, or a roof of combustible construction, fire-resistant shields or guards will be provided to prevent ignition.

• If welding is to be done on a metal wall, partition, ceiling, or roof, precautions must be taken to prevent ignition of combustibles on the other side, due to conduction or radiation of heat.

• Welding will not be attempted on a metal partition, wall, ceiling or roof having a covering nor on walls having combustible sandwich panel construction.

• Cutting or welding on pipes or other metal in contact with combustible walls, partitions, ceilings, or roofs will not be undertaken if the work is close enough to cause ignition by combustion.

• In areas where there is dust accumulation of greater than 1/16 inch within 35 feet of the area where welding/hot works will be conducted, all dust accumulation will be cleaned up following the housekeeping program of the facility before welding/hot works are permitted.

• Suitable fire extinguishers must be provided and maintained ready for instant use.


• A fire watch person will be provided during and for at least ½ hour past the completion of the welding project.

• A hot work permit will be issued on all welding or cutting outside of designated welding areas.


Brazing, cutting or welding will not be permitted in the following situations:
• In areas not authorized by management.
• In the presence of potentially explosive atmospheres.
• In areas near the storage of large quantities of exposed, readily ignitable materials.


6. Welding & Fire Prevention Measures


A designated welding area should be established to meet the following requirements:

• Floors swept and clean of combustibles within 35 feet of work area.
• Flammable and combustible liquids and material will be kept 35 feet from work area.
• Adequate ventilation providing 20 air changes per hour, such as a suction hood system should be provided to the work area.
• At least one 10-lb. dry chemical fire extinguisher should be located within immediate access and immediately outside work area.
• Protective dividers such as welding curtains or non-combustible walls will be provided to contain sparks and slag to the combustible free area.


7. Requirements For Welding Outside Designated Areas

• Portable welding curtains or shields must be used to protect other workers in the welding area.
• A hot works permit must be completed and posted prior to welding operation.
• Respiratory protection is mandatory unless an adequate monitored airflow away from the welder and others present can be established and maintained.
• Plastic materials must be covered with welding tarps during welding procedures
• Fire Watch must be provided for all hot work operations.


8. Welding, Cutting, or Heating of Metals of Toxic Significance


Mechanical ventilation shall consist of either general mechanical ventilation systems or local exhaust systems.

Adequate ventilation is when the ventilation is of sufficient capacity and so arranged as to remove fumes and smoke at the source and keep their concentration in the breathing zone within safe limits as defined in OSHA PEL's (See EH&S for more information on Subpart D of Part 1926, Occupational Health and Environmental Controls).

Contaminated air exhausted from a working space shall be discharged clear of the source of intake air.

All air replacing that withdrawn shall be clean and respirable.

Oxygen shall not be used for ventilation purposes, comfort cooling, blowing dust from clothing, or for cleaning the work area.

Welding, cutting, or heating in any enclosed spaces involving the following metals shall be performed with adequate mechanical ventilation as described above:

• Zinc-bearing base or filler metals or metals coated with zinc-bearing materials;
• Lead base metals;
• Cadmium-bearing filler materials;
• Chromium-bearing metals or metals coated with chromium-bearing materials.
• Beryllium-containing base or filler metals. Because of its high toxicity, work involving beryllium shall be done with both local exhaust ventilation and air line respirators.


Other employees exposed to the same atmosphere as the welders or burners shall be protected in the same manner as the welder or burner.


9. Welding Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)


The following lists Welding Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and are applicable for all electric and gas welding. These SOP are to be posted on the SUNY New Paltz Web and in the Safety Manual located with Supervisor for quick reference and review.


A. SOP-Electric Welding

• Perform Safety Check on all equipment
• Ensure fire extinguisher is charged and available
• Ensure electrical cord, electrode holder and cables are free from defects (no cable splices are allowed within 10 feet of the electrode holder).
• Ensure PPE (welding hood, gloves, rubber boots/soled shoes, and aprons) are available and have no defects.
• Ensure the welding unit is properly grounded.
• All defective equipment must be repaired or replaced before use.
• Remove flammables and combustibles
• No welding is permitted on or near containers of flammable material, combustible material or unprotected flammable structures.
• Place welding screen or suitable barricade around work area to provide a fire safety zone and prevent injuries to passersby (do not block emergency exits or restrict ventilation).
• Ensure adequate ventilation and lighting
• Execute Hot Work Permit procedures
• Set Voltage Regulator no higher than the following for:
• Manual Alternating Current Welders - 80 volts
• Automatic Alternating Current Welders - 100 volts
• Manual or automatic Direct Current Welders -100 volts
• Uncoil and spread out welding cable
• To avoid overheating, ensure proper contact of work leads and connections, remove any metal fragments from magnetic work clamps (to avoid electric shock do not wrap welding cables around a body part and avoid welding in wet conditions)
• Fire watch during and for ½ hour after welding.
• Perform final fire watch and terminate permit.


B. SOP-Gas Welding

• Perform Safety Check on all equipment.
• Ensure tanks have gas and fittings are tight.
• Ensure fire extinguisher is charged and available.
• Inspect hoses for defects.
• Ensure PPE (welding hood, gloves, rubber boots/soled shoes, and aprons) are available and have no defects.
• All defective equipment must be repaired or replaced before use.
• Remove flammables and combustibles
• No welding is permitted on or near containers of flammable material, combustible material or unprotected flammable structures.
• Place welding screen or suitable barricade around work area to provide a fire safety zone and prevent injuries to passersby (do not block emergency exits or restrict ventilation).
• Use an authorized Air Filtering Respirator, if required.
• Ensure adequate ventilation and lighting.
• Execute Hot Work Permit procedures.
• Open valves on oxygen and gas tanks to desired flow.
• Shut tank valves & relieve hose pressure. Store hoses.
• Fire watch for 1/2 hour after welding and until all welds have cooled.
• Perform final fire watch and terminate permit.


i. Compressed Gas


a. Care, Transporting, Moving and Storage

• Valve caps on cylinders must be in place and secured. Valve caps must not be used for lifting. Do not pry cylinder caps while frozen. Loosen caps with warm water.
• Cylinders must be secured at all times.
• Cylinders must be moved by tilting and rolling them on their bottom edges. Avoid dropping cylinders or striking other cylinders.
• Cylinders transported by powered vehicles must be secured in a vertical position.
• Regulators must be removed and caps put in place prior to moving cylinders, unless cylinders are secured on a special carrier.
• Proper steadying devices must be used to keep cylinders from falling over while in use.
• Cylinder valves must be closed when cylinders are empty or when cylinders are moved.
• Oxygen cylinders must be stored separated from fuel gas cylinders or combustible materials a minimum distance of 20 feet or by a five foot high non-combustible barrier with a fire-resistance rating of one-half hour.
• Cylinders stored inside buildings must be stored 20 feet from combustible materials where they are well protected, well ventilated, and dry. Cylinders must not be stored near elevators, stairs or gangways. Assigned storage locations must prevent cylinders from being knocked over or damaged.
• Cylinders must be kept away from welding or cutting operations to prevent sparks, hot slag, or flame from reaching them. Fire resistant shields must be used when this is impractical.
• Cylinders must be placed away from electrical circuits. Do not strike electrodes against a cylinder to strike an arc.
• Cylinders containing oxygen, acetylene or other fuel gas must not be used in confined spaces.
• Cylinders must not be used as rollers or supports.
• No damaged or defective cylinder may be used.


ii. Use of Fuel Gas

• Valves must be opened slightly and closed immediately before a regulator is connected to the cylinder. This is called "cracking" which clears the valve of dust and dirt. The employee must stand to the side of the outlet, not in front. Valves must be cracked away from welding work, sparks, flames or other sources of ignition.
• Valves must be opened slowly to prevent damage to the regulator. Valves must not be opened more than 1½ turns. If a wrench is required it must stay in position in case of emergency for a quick shut off. Manifold or coupled cylinders must have a wrench available for immediate use. Do not place objects on top of cylinders, or damage may occur to the safety device or interfere with the quick closing of the valve.
• Cylinders must be closed and the gas released from the regulator before removing the regulator.
• If cylinders, valves, regulators, plugs, or other safety devices are damaged, they must be tagged out of service and removed from the work area.


iii. Manifolds

• Fuel gas and oxygen manifolds must bear the name of the substance they contain.
• Fuel gas and oxygen manifolds must not be placed in confined spaces, but will be placed in safe, well ventilated, and accessible locations.
• Hose connections must be made so that they cannot be interchanged between fuel gas and oxygen manifolds and supply header connections. Keep hose connections free of grease and oil, and do not use adapters to interchange hoses.
• Manifold and header hose connections must be capped when not in use.
• Nothing may be placed on manifolds that will damage the manifold or interfere with the quick closing of the valves.


iv. Hoses

• Fuel gas hose and oxygen hose must be distinguishable from each other, and not be interchangeable. Contrast may be made by different colors or by surface characteristics distinguishable by the sense of touch.
• Employees will inspect all hoses in use at the beginning of each work shift. Defective hoses will be tagged and removed from service.
• Hoses subjected to flashback, or which show severe wear or damage must be tested at twice the normal pressure for the hose, but not less than 300 p.s.i. If defective, the hose must not be used.
• Hose couplings must be disconnected by rotary motion only.
• Hoses stored in boxes must be well ventilated.
• Hoses, cables, and other equipment must be kept clear of passageways, ladders and stairs.


v. Torches

• Torches must be inspected at the beginning of each working shift for leaking shutoff valves, hose couplings, and tip connections. Defective torches may not be used.
• Clogged torch tip openings must be cleaned.
• Torches may be lit by friction lighters or other approved devices only.


vi. Regulators and gauges

• Pressure regulators and related gauges, must work properly while in use.


vii. Oil and grease hazards

• Oxygen cylinders and fittings must be kept away from oil or grease. Cylinders and fittings must be kept free from oil or greasy substances and may not be handled with oily hands or gloves.
• Oxygen must not be directed at oily surfaces, greasy clothes, or within a fuel oil or other storage tank or vessel.


10. Fire Protection

• Objects to be welded, cut or heated must be moved to a designated safe location. If the object cannot be easily moved, all moveable fire hazards will be moved or protected.
• If the object to be welded, cut, or heated cannot be moved and if all the fire hazards cannot be removed, positive means must be taken to confine the heat, sparks, and slag, and to protect the immovable fire hazards from them.
• Welding, cutting, or heating must not be performed in the presence of flammable paints, flammable compounds or heavy dust concentrations.
• Fire extinguishers must be immediately available in the work area, free of obstruction, and maintained for instant use.
• The Job Supervisor will assign a fire watch. Sufficient amount of time (at least ½ hour) must be allowed after completion of work to ensure that the possibility of fire does not exist. The designated fire watch must be trained in fire fighting equipment.
• Gas supplies must be shut off during lunch breaks, overnight, or during shift breaks. Hoses and torches must be removed from confined spaces.


11. Training


SUNY New Paltz employees are required to become familiar with and understand the guidelines regarding Welding and Cutting operations. Designated welders and cutters must receive training and must demonstrate their understanding of these guidelines.

Training frequency for the welding policy shall be initial and periodic if supervisor's audits show deficiencies of employee understanding . Respirator and Fire extinguisher training have different training requirements and periodicity.

Training should include:

1. Review of requirements listed in this policy
2. Use of Hot Works Permit System
3. Supervisor responsibilities
4. Fire Watch responsibilities
5. Operator responsibilities
6. Documentation requirements
7. Respirator usage requirements (if applicable)
8. Fire Extinguisher training

Upon completion of reading and understanding this program, SUNY New Paltz supervisors will certify in writing that each designated welder has received and understands training requirements. Certification must include the employee's name, name of the trainer, date of training, and subject of certification.


12. Conclusion


All employees of SUNY New Paltz are required to comply with the rules set forth in this written program. This program is intended to provide the maximum protection for employees, students and visitors of SUNY New Paltz.


13. Regulation:


OSHA 29 CFR 1910.252


14. Definitions


Welding/Hot Works Procedures: any activity which results in sparks, fire, molten slag, or hot material which has the potential to cause fires or explosions.
Examples of Hot Works: Cutting, Brazing, Soldering, Thawing Pipes, Torch Applied Roofing, Grinding and Welding.
Special Hazard Occupancies: Any area containing Flammable Liquids, Dust Accumulation, Gases, Plastics, Rubber and Paper Products.