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Welders tell researchers why they don’t always wear PPE

"Hazards of welding"
Image: rusak/iStockphoto

Tempe, AZ — A recent study indicates that many welding workers believe some of their tasks don’t warrant the use of personal protective equipment.

Commissioned by CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training, researchers from Arizona State University surveyed 124 members of the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors National Association and the Mechanical Contractors Association of America. They also interviewed 23 workers from nonunion firms in the Southwest United States that have fewer than 10 employees.

The result: Nearly 64% of the workers who were surveyed said they’ve heard co-workers say a welding task was too simple or quick to make shields or ventilation equipment necessary. An equal percentage cited “personal preference,” while 63% find PPE uncomfortable and 60% said it’s inconvenient or “too much trouble.”

At the same time, 10 of the 23 workers who were interviewed said their employers don’t provide any safety measures or equipment, while 13 said their employers offered only general PPE such as gloves or eye and ear protection. Hazards associated with welding include burns and exposure to fumes and nanomaterials.

Those workers agreed that their experiences likely differed from the survey group’s “because contractors belonging to professional associations employ union workers who have documented safety requirements.”

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