Welding Hazards: Skin Injuries and Flash Burn Treatment and Prevention

welder setting up plasma cutter

Welding Buddy Experts

May 24, 2022
workers checking the burn on arm

Welding is one of the most hazardous jobs in the construction industry. The first precautions for welders is wearing the appropriate safety gear. But sometimes, work accidents still happen no matter how careful you are. 

It’s common to see burns due to welding activities because of the high heat involved in the welding process. Some skin burns, when not appropriately treated, can cause scarring. Flash burns can also happen, which can cause permanent damage to your eyes. When accidents like these happen, it's crucial to know quick treatments to avoid lasting damage to your body. 

In this article, we'll share some quick treatments you can do for these nasty injuries. We'll also be giving preventive measures to make sure you can avoid these accidents from happening. 

Welding flash burns 

Have you ever experienced a sunburn? The feeling of your skin being overexposed to UV rays can be very painful. Flash burns are essentially the same, but instead of getting the burning sensation on your skin, it happens in your eyes. Fortunately, the eyes can self-heal over time, but leaving the flash burn untreated can lead to infections, vision problems, or worse—vision loss. 

Treating flash burns is essential knowledge to welders. The faster you can respond to your injuries, the greater chance it won't do any lasting damage. Here are some practices you can do when dealing with welding flash burns. 

Do not self-diagnose. 

When flash burns happen, you will feel moderate to intense pain in your eye area for the next few hours. Your eyes can also get hazy and turn red due to the burn. These are normal for flash burns, but always check with your doctor so that they can assess the damage and treat your injury accordingly. 

Doctors don’t recommend flash burn treatment at home. Doctors shine a blue light and inject a special fluid to assess your condition correctly. Remember, the longer you wait for your injury to be checked, the greater the chance it will give you permanent damage. 

Eye drops and dressing the burnt area.

Your doctors will prescribe specific eye drops to increase the healing process. During the course of your medication, it’s normal to feel difficulty in keeping your eyes open. There's no need to panic because the eye drops are designed to relax your eye muscles to keep them rested for healing. 

Furthermore, it would be helpful to put a dressing or an eye patch over your injured eye. The less light that goes through your eyes, the faster the healing process will be. Just take note that when you have an eye patch, driving, welding, and other activities that require hand-eye coordination are limited. 

Welding skin burns 

There are plenty of tools in your workstation that can cause burns on the skin. Torches, hot metals, chemicals, and electricity can give you burns. A burn's intensity can vary depending on how long you were exposed to the heat. Some burns heal on their own, but others require further medical assistance to prevent infections. 

In case of burns, here are some practices you can do to treat them.

Get away from the heat immediately.

When burns happen, the first thing you should do is step away from the heat. Remove all clothing material burned on the injured area and go to a place with a lower temperature to ease the pain and heat temporarily. 

Try to make the burn comfortable.

You want to apply a colder temperature to the burnt area as much as possible. Dousing the burnt area with water will help it cool down. If the burnt area does not develop any blisters, you can apply a cooling gel or aloe vera to alleviate the pain. Avoid using ice cubes directly on your skin because the burnt skin will stick to the ice. Wrap the cubes in a clean cloth if you wish to use them. 

If the injured area is blistered, it's a sign of a second-degree burn. Do not attempt to peel and pop the blisters to prevent further infection. Seek medical assistance immediately for severe burns. First aid is recommended, but it’s best to get a professional diagnosis in case your burns aren’t healing. 

welding helmet to prevent flash burn

Preventive Measures to Avoid Welding Burns 

Now that you know quick skin and flash burn treatments, it’s also essential to know some precautionary measures to prevent them from happening. Here are some easy and guaranteed tips to help keep you safe during welding. 

  • Always wear protective equipment from head to toe. If you think that the helmet is the only essential gear in your arsenal, it's not. Welding gloves, industrial boots, fireproof jackets, and pants are necessary to keep you safe. Invest in these gear for your work protection. 
  • Keep flammable items away when you are going to use fire—for example, torches, lighters, and matchsticks. When you ignite them, make sure you are in a safe environment. Even the tiniest sparks can cause an explosion and serious injuries. 
  • Invest in a quality helmet. There are many welding helmet options in the marketplace. Make sure to choose the one that can protect you. It is best to choose a helmet with auto-darkening features. This way, you won't have to worry about flash burns. Once you start working, the protection turns on automatically. 
  • Keep your workstation organized and well-lit. If your tools and metal pieces are scattered everywhere, you are prone to bump them, which can cause hazards. Furthermore, working in a dark environment opens you to unwanted accidents. So shine a light on your workstation. One slip of the hand during welding can cause significant accidents. 

Final Thoughts 

Accidents happen, especially when you are involved in a hazard-prone activity. Welding burns are common even for professional workers. That's why it's essential to keep yourself protected with proper safety equipment from head to toe. Moreover, whether the accidents are human error or machine error, it's crucial that you know quick and easy first aid responses. 

We hope this article on skin and flash burn treatments helps you in the future. It's better to know what to do and be ready in case emergencies happen. For more safety precautions and protective equipment for welding, explore our other blogs.

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