There are some careers so dangerous, they require special clothing to be worn when at work. Welding is such a career, as welders work with torches to melt metals to bond them together. There are many pieces of protective clothing and gear welders should wear, including those listed in this article.
Almost any clothing can be worn while welding, but it should be natural materials which burn slowly in cause slag or sparks land on the fabric. The preferred fabrics for welding include:
These materials will usually smoulder instead of burn if sparks or hot metal land on them. Synthetic materials should never be worn, as they easily melt and can cause severe burns on the skin.
Working outside in the fall and winter can be very cold, even while welding. Heavy welding jackets made from leather will help keep you comfortable in the winter, but they can be too hot for spring or summer work. Some welders find them too confining as well because the jackets can limit their range of motion.
Instead of bulky jackets, some welders prefer wearing welding aprons or welding bibs. Welding aprons help protect you from the chest down and are usually made from leather, but there are also cotton aprons used for TIG welding. Welding bibs protect the neck, chest and shoulders because they hang off the helmet or face mask. Both garments are cooler to work in than jackets and allow the arms to move freely.
If you’re wearing a welding bib or apron, you should purchase a pair of welding gauntlets to cover and protect your arms. Some of them are made to attach to welding gloves so there are no spaces to allow sparks or slags to get on the welder’s arms.
Welding gloves are usually made from leather and cover the hands and wrists, however, you can also purchase gloves long enough to cover the forearms. Some gloves are sewn with Kevlar which is flame resistant and very strong so the gloves can last for several years.
One of the most important pieces of protective gear is the welder’s helmet or mask. Welding helmets not only protect the face from flying sparks and hot metal but are made to protect the eyes too. The helmet has an opening covered by a dark glass or hard plastic lens to protect the welder’s eyes from the bright light of an arc welder’s flame and sparks.
Some helmets have gone hi-tech because they have a battery pack which controls a feature in the lens allowing it to darken automatically while they are working. Some non-powered helmets and masks have a darker flip up lens the welder can place over a lighter lens when the flames and sparks are too bright.
In addition to this apparel and gear, welders should also wear boots to protect their feet from slags or sparks generated while welding. Most leather, steel-toed boots will work well to protect your feet while you’re working.