Welding Safety Essentials 101

The class “Welding Safety Essentials” provides a broad overview of safety topics for various welding processes. The course describes general safety practices, such as electrical, fire, cylinder, and fume safety, that welders must follow. The class also provides an overview of guideline-setting organizations, such as OSHA and ANSI.

Preventing accidents is crucial to any welder or welding organization. Safety issues endanger personnel, reduce quality and productivity, and harm the performance of any organization. After taking “Welding Safety Essentials,” welders will be prepared to follow welding safety guidelines and will be informed about safety standards important to the welding industry, allowing for a productive workplace.

Class Details

Class Name:
Welding Safety Essentials 101
Number of Lessons:

Class Outline

  • Welding Safety
  • OSHA SDS Requirements
  • PPE for Welding
  • Safety Basics Review
  • Electricity in Welding
  • Primary and Secondary Electric Shock
  • Flow of Electricity in Electric Shock
  • Insulation and PPE
  • Equipment Inspection and Maintenance
  • Reviewing Safety and Electric Shock
  • Fume Plume
  • Fume Plume Contents
  • Preventing Toxic Fume Inhalation
  • Ventilation and Confined Spaces
  • Reviewing Toxic Fumes and Ventilation
  • Flammable and Combustible Materials
  • Cylinder Contents and Labeling
  • Cylinder Handling and Storage
  • Reviewing Cylinder Safety
  • Proper First Aid Procedures


  • Describe safety essentials in welding.
  • Describe the SDS.
  • Describe welding PPE.
  • Describe electricity.
  • Distinguish between primary and secondary electric shock.
  • Describe how insulation and PPE can help prevent electric shock.
  • Describe the aspects of welding equipment that help to prevent electric shock.
  • Describe the dangers of the fume plume.
  • Describe how to prevent inhalation of toxic fumes.
  • Describe how to ensure safety in a confined space.
  • Define flammables and combustibles in welding.
  • Identify cylinder labels.
  • Describe cylinder handling and storage.
  • Describe first aid procedures for common welding injuries.

Job Roles



Vocabulary Term Definition
acetylene A colorless flammable gas that is used in oxyfuel welding. Acetylene is the most commonly used gas for mixing with oxygen to fuel oxyfuel torches.
air-supplied respirator A breathing device that consists of a full face mask with a hose that connects to a freestanding compressed air cylinder. Air-supplied respirators are used in confined spaces to maintain exposure levels.
alloying element An element that is intentionally added to a metal in order to change its properties. Manganese is a common alloying element in steel.
alternating current AC. Current that regularly reverses the direction of its flow. AC is more dangerous than direct current.
American National Standards Insitute ANSI. A private, non-profit organization that administers and coordinates voluntary standards and systems. ANSI helps set guidelines for personal protective equipment used in welding.
American Society of Testing and Materials ASTM. An organization that writes and updates specifications for a broad range of materials. ASTM provides specifications for PPE standards for shoes and eyewear in welding.
American Welding Society AWS. The non-profit organization that regulates the industrial standards for welding and promotes the welding industry in the United States. Welders should follow AWS recommendations.
ANSI Z49.1 A standards document published by the American National Standards Institute that covers welding PPE and other safety concerns. ANSI Z49.1 is titled 'Safety in Welding, Cutting, and Allied Processes.'
arc welding A welding process that uses heat generated from electricity to melt filler metal and base metals to form an airtight weld. The intense heat and light in arc welding can pose health risks.
atom The smallest distinguishable unit of a material that maintains that material's characteristics. Atoms include protons, neutrons, and electrons.
attendants Someone trained in permit space entry and surface rescue who remains outside a confined space during entry. The authorized attendant monitors the safety of workers in the confined space.
automatic external defibrillator AED. A portable electronic device that can be used to treat cardiac arrhythmias by allowing the heart to reestablish an effective rhythm. An AED is often used in CPR training.
base metal The metal or alloy being welded. Welders must have access to information about the contents of the base metal so that they can take precautions and be aware of safety risks.
beryllium A hard gray metal. Because it is highly toxic, work involving beryllium should be done with local exhaust ventilation and air-supplied respirators.
cadmium A soft, bluish-white metal found in zinc ores. Cadmium is commonly used in metal alloys and as a coating on base metals.
cardiopulmonary resuscitation CPR. A technique designed to temporarily circulate oxygenated blood through the body of a person whose heart has stopped. CPR can be used when a person has stopped breathing.
central nervous system Comprised of the brain, spinal cord, and complex nerve tissues. The central nervous system controls many different bodily activities and may be damaged by overexposure to some welding fumes.
chromium A grayish metal that improves corrosion resistance. Chromium is sometimes added to electrodes.
circuits A completely enclosed path, consisting of various devices, that contains an electrical current. In arc welding, the machine output circuit is also known as the welding circuit.
coatings Any material that has been applied to the surface of the base metal. Coatings include primer, paint, zinc, and chrome.
combustible Any substance that is capable of igniting and burning. Oxygen is a combustible used in welding.
compressed gas Any gas held under pressure in a gas cylinder. Gas under pressure may pose a physical hazard from explosion.
conductor A material that allows for the flow of electricity. Conductors include metals such as copper and aluminum.
Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists ACGIH. A member-based organization that recommends and reviews threshold limit values for chemicals used in the workplace. The ACGIH advances worker protection.
confined space An area with limited means of entry or exit that is large enough for an employee to enter and perform work. Welding in confined spaces may require an air-supplied respirator or air quality testing.
confined space entry program A written set of policies and procedures for entering permit-required spaces. OSHA requires every employer whose employees enter permit-required spaces to develop a written plan.
consumables A type of electrode that provides filler material, may have an internal or external flux shielding, and is compatible with the base material. Consumables may produce fumes that are harmful if inhaled.
current The rate and amount of electrical flow. Arc welding requires a continuous flow of electricity to maintain the arc.
cylinder cart Also called a hand truck. A cart on wheels used for moving small, heavy objects.
direct current DC. A current formed when electrons flow in one continuous direction. Many welding applications use direct current.
earplugs Hearing protection made of silicone or rubber designed to fit in the ear. Earplugs can be single-use, or they can be pre-formed for long-term use.
electric burns An injury caused by the flow of electric current through tissue or bone. Electric burns can cause severe tissue damage.
electric shock The flow of electricity through the body. Severe electric shock can be fatal.
electrically charged A way of describing a wire or device that has current flowing through it. Welders must observe all necessary safety precautions near electrically charged devices.
electrically live Carrying an electric charge. Electrically live components in a welding power source include the interior lead and conductor.
electricity A form of energy created by the movement of electrons. Arc welding utilizes electricity.
electrocution To be killed or injured by electricity. Electrocution is a main cause of death or injury in welding.
electrode The device on a welding gun that carries a secondary electric current that terminates at the arc. Electrodes can be either consumable or non-consumable.
electrode circuit The output circuit of a welding power source, also called the secondary circuit. Electrode circuits are enclosed paths that contain the 60-100 volt electrical power used for welding.
electrode holder The insulated handle that clamps onto the electrode. The electrode holder must be dry and in good condition.
electrons A negatively charged particle that orbits the center of an atom. Electrons play an integral role in conducting current.
exposure limits Guidelines set by regulatory agencies that employers have to follow to maintain worker safety. Exposure limits include permissible exposure limits and threshold limit values.
face shields A rigid, transparent plastic guard that covers the welder's entire face to protect against dust or splashes. Because face shields do not protect against impacts, they are often worn with goggles or safety glasses with side shields.
filter lens Welding PPE that protects vision against radiant energy given off by the arc. Different shade numbers indicate the intensity of light radiation allowed to pass through a filter lens.
flammable A material that can easily ignite and start a fire. Compressed gas cylinders and dust are examples of flammable materials and hazards in welding.
flash point The lowest temperature at which a liquid produces enough vapor to form an ignitable mixture. Liquids with low flash points pose the greatest danger.
fluorine A highly reactive chemical element. Gas welding fluxes containing fluorine compounds may give off fumes when heated that may cause eye, nose, and throat irritation.
flux A non-metallic material applied to the workpiece that protects the weld puddle and solid metal from atmospheric contamination. Flux can contribute dangerous fumes to the fume plume.
fume plume A cloud-like area above the arc containing welding gases, metallic fumes, and particulates. Welders should keep their heads out of the fume plume and use adequate ventilation.
fumes Gases and particulate matter generated at the electric arc. Fumes are generated from the type of electrode, flux, shielding gas, base metal, and any coatings included in the weld area.
Globally Harmonized System GHS. An international standard for communicating chemical hazards through signs, labeling, and safety data sheets. The GHS is intended to standardize hazard communication information worldwide.
grounded Safely connected to a neutral body, like the earth, which can absorb a stray electrical charge. Electric tools must be grounded to prevent electric shock.
grounding A means of providing a safe path for electricity should it stray from its intended path. Grounding substantially reduces the risk of electrical shock.
hand truck A cart on wheels used for moving small, heavy objects. Cylinder carts are also called hand trucks.
hazard assessment A written, formal appraisal of the safety risks that exist within a workplace. Hazard assessment is included in a confined space entry program.
hazard communication The means through which employers inform their employees about hazards in the workplace. Hazard communication includes employee training and SDS.
Hazard Communication Standard HCS. An established OSHA policy that sets guidelines for handling hazardous materials. The HCS emphasizes labeling, SDS, and training, and is aligned with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS).
hazard statement A statement that describes the hazard, its degree, the class, and category. The hazard statement is required by the OSHA HCS.
hexavalent chromium A grayish metal that contains the elements chromium and oxygen. Hexavalent chromium is produced during the welding process.
insulation Material that prohibits the flow of electricity. Insulation is necessary to prevent electrical shock.
insulators A material that is highly resistant to the flow of electricity. Rubber and plastic are insulators.
lead A soft, heavy, toxic metallic element. Lead produces toxic fumes that can cause health problems after prolonged exposure.
lead Secondary circuit insulated cables inside the welder. The electrode cable connects the power source output to the electrode, and the work lead connects the workpiece to the welding machine work connection.
manganese A hard, brittle, gray-white metal often added to electrodes and steel. Manganese removes oxides and increases strength and hardness in the weld.
MAPP Methylacetylene-propadiene gas. A liquefied petroleum gas that can be used in oxyfuel processes. The main disadvantage of MAPP gas is that it costs much more than acetylene.
mechanical ventilation An automatic system of extracting fumes from the arc. Mechanical ventilation either exhausts or filters vapors.
mercury A heavy metallic element. Confined space or indoor welding operations involving mercury-bearing materials must be done using local exhaust ventilation or respirators.
natural gas A flammable gas that occurs naturally underground. Natural gas is used as a cutting gas in welding.
natural ventilation The process of supplying and removing air through a space without using a mechanical system. Natural ventilation uses outdoor air flow.
nonconductive Unable to transfer electrical energy. Nonconductive materials can provide insulation in welding environments.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA. A government agency that sets the standards for working conditions in the United States and ensures that employees work in safe and healthy environments. OSHA welding standards regulate employees’ exposure to chemicals and protective equipment, among other workplace safety factors.
OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Administration. A government agency that sets the standards for working conditions in the United States and ensures that employees work in safe and healthy environments. OSHA welding standards regulate employees’ exposure to chemicals and protective equipment, among other workplace safety factors.
oxidation A material's chemical reaction with oxygen. Oxidation takes place in the welding arc as a result of the base metal and electrode composition reacting with oxygen in the atmosphere.
particulate matter Microscopic, solid contaminants including metal, dirt, sand, and dust. The particles formed from welding vapors can be harmful if inhaled.
particulates Solid contaminants include metal, dirt, sand, and dust. The particulate matter formed from welding vapors can be harmful if inhaled.
permissible exposure limits PEL. Legal limits set by OSHA to protect employees from hazardous substance exposure. Permissible Exposure Limits are based on a time-weighted average for an eight-hour shift.
personal protective equipment PPE. Articles of clothing or safeguarding devices that employees use to prevent injury in the workplace or on worksites. Welding PPE includes safety glasses, insulated gloves, face shields, and earplugs.
pictogram An illustration of a hazard, intended to be understood even if the viewer cannot read or speak English. There are nine different pictograms required for use on labels by the Globally Harmonized System (GHS).
polarity Having a positive or negative charge. During arc welding, the electrode and the workpiece form a pair of poles: one negative and one positive.
power source A device that supplies current and voltage suitable for welding. Home and factory power sources are connected to residential or industrial electrical power, while portable units create their own electrical output utilizing a gasoline or diesel engine and a rotating electrical device.
PPE Personal Protective Equipment. Articles of clothing or safeguarding devices that employees use to prevent injury in the workplace or on worksites. PPE for welding includes safety glasses, insulated gloves, face shields, and earplugs.
precautionary statement A statement that offers ways to minimize the effects of exposure and may suggest particular PPE to use. A precautionary statement is required by the OSHA HCS.
primary voltage shock An electrical shock that occurs due to touching an electrically live component at the same time as a grounded conductor. Primary voltage shock ranges from 120-480 volts and can be fatal.
product identification Includes the name or number of a hazardous chemical and information that can be cross-referenced with the written hazard communication program, SDS, and labels. Product identification is required by the OSHA HCS.
propylene Also known as propane. A flammable gas that can be used in oxyfuel welding instead of acetylene.
radiant energy Energy from a magnetic field that is produced by the motion of electric charges such as an electric current. Radiant energy is also called electromagnetic energy.
regulator The device used to control the amount of gas that flows from a cylinder during a weld. Turning off the regulator on a cylinder helps to ensure that the hose is not pressurized.
Safety Data Sheets SDS. Mandatory information that must accompany almost every chemical in the workplace. An SDS includes specific sections with details such as the hazards, precautions, and first-aid procedures associated with the chemical.
safety glasses Protective eyeglasses with metal or plastic frames and impact-resistant lenses that may or may not offer vision correction. Safety glasses worn for welding applications must also have protective side shields.
safety-toed Protective footwear with a reinforced toe area. Safety-toed boots prevent foot injury from falling objects.
SDS Safety Data Sheet. Mandatory information that must accompany almost every chemical in the workplace. An SDS includes specific sections with details such as the hazards, precautions, and first-aid procedures associated with the chemical.
secondary voltage shock An electrical shock that occurs as a result of touching the electrode and another conductor at the same time. Secondary voltage shock ranges from 60-100 volts.
signal word A word that indicates the level of severity of a hazard. Signal words are required by the OSHA HCS.
stainless steel A very hard, corrosion-resistant steel. Stainless steel can be welded using many methods.
synthetic fire-resistant materials A manufactured synthetic textile that is flame retardant. Fire resistant synthetic material is lightweight and cooler to wear.
thermal cutting A cutting process that uses heat to remove metal from a workpiece. Thermal cutting processes include oxyfuel and laser beams.
valve caps A device used to prevent the flow of gas from a cylinder while not in use. Valve caps should be closed when cylinders are not in use.
ventilation A means of providing fresh air. Ventilation reduces the hazards posed by welding fumes and gases.
voltage reduction device VRD. A device that can be fitted to a power source to reduce the voltage. Voltage reduction devices reduce the risk of electric shock.
volts The basic unit of measurement for electrical 'pressure' or potential. A high voltage of electricity can cause serious injury.
welder A term used to refer to the person who welds. Some source materials use the term 'welder' to refer to the power source, or welding machine.
welding A joining process that permanently bonds together two separate components with heat, pressure, or a combination of those elements. Welding creates sparks, which can be a fire hazard near flammable materials.
welding helmets A heat-resistant head covering that protects against burns and eye damage. Welding helmets prevent burns from spatter and sparks and contain a darkened lens to protect the eyes from the welding arc.
work cable The path used in welding to conduct electricity from the power source to the workpiece. To prevent injury, the work cables must be in good condition and correctly installed.
work clamp The component that, along with the electrode, can come in direct contact with the workpiece during welding. The work clamp is connected to the work cable.
zinc A bluish white metal that is corrosive resistant and has a relatively low melting point. Zinc can create harmful zinc oxide fumes when welded.