New York Welding Accidents Lawyer
Welding, which uses intense heat and pressure to fuse different materials together, is a particularly dangerous form of construction work. Data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) shows that roughly half a million workers a year are exposed to the dangers of welding, and that four of every thousand workers will experience a fatal injury while on the job. In a high-risk field such as welding, it’s crucial for employers and contractors to provide their employees with all of the training and personal protective equipment (PPE) they need to do their jobs safely – otherwise, catastrophic and avoidable injuries may result.
Block O’Toole & Murphy has almost 100 case results exceeding $1 million each for workers hurt on the job. Call 212-736-5300 to speak with an experienced construction accident attorney and learn how you can pursue justice and receive compensation for the damages you’ve suffered.
Photokeratosis or Flash Burn: The Danger of UV Light
The bright blue light that an active welding torch produces is its most distinguishing feature-but this light is also very dangerous, because it gives off a large amount of ultraviolet (UV) light. UV light is a form of electromagnetic radiation which is harmful in excess levels, particularly for the skin and eyes.
Eye injuries caused by an overexposure to the UV light from an active welding torch is generally called photokeratosis or flash burn. A flash burn is similar to sunburn on the cornea of your eye, which can cause inflammation, pain, blurred vision and watery eyes. While flash burn typically heals within a day or two, photokeratosis can become infected and potentially cause blindness if left untreated.
Studies have shown that welders flash is actually more common for non-welders (41.1% of welding-related eye injuries) than it is for welders themselves (19.7%). This implies that while welders themselves are generally aware of and prepared for the danger an active welding torch poses, other workers on the job site may not be, possibly signifying the need for safety supervisors to provide more thorough site safety plans to all workers on the construction site.
Other Eye Injuries Caused by Welding
While eye burn injuries are especially common for non-welders, the leading cause of welding related occupational eye injuries is foreign bodies entering the eye, such as small particles. This type of injury is far more common for welders (63.4%) than for non-welders (40.4%), but in total makes up a majority of total eye injuries studied (54.7%).
This injury may be in part attributed to inadequate protection. Data from the BLS has indicated that of the roughly 1,000 eye injuries that occur every day in American workplaces, about 40% of injured workers were wearing some sort of eye protection – it just wasn’t enough for the job they were doing. In order to prevent eye injuries caused by welding, employers and contractors must provide employees with protective eyewear which complies with the ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2015 standard for proper eye and face protection devices. Face and eye protection devices that are compliant with these latest standards are marked with “Z87”-is your employer providing you with the proper equipment?
Dangers of Welding in New York City
Eye injuries are only one of the things which employers, contractors and safety supervisors must work to protect their employees from. Other dangers commonly associated with welding include:
- Burns, particularly from slag chips
- Electrocution due to improperly installed or grounded welder
- Buildup of toxic fumes due to inadequate ventilation
- Fires in the welding area or in ripped or torn clothes
- Explosions from fumes, gas leaks, or leftover vapors on improper welding surfaces
One welding danger which deserves closer attention is the potential for falling while welding from suspended scaffolding. Welders occasionally will have to work at high elevations, particularly on the skyscrapers which are so common in New York City. The most important safety tip for this scenario is “preserving the condition of the wire rope” which is supporting the worker.
The primary danger in this scenario is the welding torch or a live electrical wire somehow touching the wire rope, which could cause the rope to break immediately. To prevent this from happening, it is absolutely crucial that an insulated tube protect the wire rope from suffering such damage. OSHA regulation 1926.451(f)(17)(ii) states that this wire rope “shall be covered with insulating material extending at least 4 feet (1.2 m) above the hoist.”
Exposure to toxic fumes is another common danger associated with welding, albeit over a longer time frame. Typically, welding rods include large amounts of manganese, which can be harmful if excessively inhaled. It is also possible that leftover varnishes or polish remain on welding materials, which can create additional dangerous fumes if the metal is not properly cleaned before being welded. To avoid hazards associated with inhaling an excess amount of welding fumes, it is absolutely crucial that welding work happens in areas with adequate ventilation.
Contact a Welding Accident Lawyer
Welding work does not have to be dangerous, but as we have seen, there are many potential ways which workers can suffer welding injuries if employers, contractors and safety supervisors do not take all necessary safety precautions to protect their workers. The experienced personal injury lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy are well-versed in New York Labor Laws, and are renowned for their aggressive defense of New York workers who have been injured due to somebody else’s negligence.
If you or somebody you love have been injured in a welding accident, call 212-736-5300 or fill out our online contact form to receive a free legal consultation from one of our experienced personal injury attorneys-there is no charge unless we win your case.
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