Underwater welding is not too different from other types of welding. However, not all welding professionals can. The dangers of underwater welding are managed by the conditions of being submerged in water. The process of welding pipes, ships, boats, and other objects submerged in water requires protection and knowledge equipment.
Having greater knowledge of the risks existing during the development of a welding process allows you to prepare for any eventuality. The natural complexity of using electricity with water is what subjects the welder to several potential hazards that you will be aware of. The process of preparing a diver or underwater welder takes from six months to two years, depending on the institute.
The risks of underwater welding will always be present, so preventive measures must be taken. Prevention measures range from taking new welding techniques to reviewing special protective equipment for the welder. Waterproof electrodes are one of the protection elements that welders use to carry out the different activities proposed.
The topic of wet welding is very extensive, especially when it comes to the safety that divers must-have. Welding directly to the part is a type of welding known as underwater, and its risks are greater. For its part, dry soldering is only about being in a capsule, facilitating the dry environment underwater.
Due to the need for underwater welding in this guide, you will get a balance of the dangers of underwater welding. Being an emergency job, knowing the risks will allow you to be better prepared to respond to eventualities presented at work.
Underwater Welding Risks & Solutions
For underwater welding, direct current is used, which gives a direct and indirect polarity giving rise to more dangers. The most frequent dangers in welding work are the following:
1) Electric Shock
During the underwater welding process, you will have to be at constant risk of having continuous electricity to carry out the work. The negative edge will be connected to the electrode holder and the positive terminal that, if not handled correctly, generates an electric shock. Throughout the process, the welding process is required to have direct polarity for greater penetration of the electrode.
How Dangerous Is Underwater Welding?
Working with the current is not a simple job, especially due to the risk of electric shock. With amounts up to 600 amps, people can die from electric shock while welding a metal part. When cables that are unsuitable for the process are used, you may be prone to electric shock.
The correct protective equipment and welding equipment measures are what help prevent risks of electric shock. In an underwater welding process, there can be no lack of a safety switch to be used in case of discharges.
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Certain elements combined can cause exposure while doing an underwater welding process. The elements that can give rise to an explosion are:
This is derived from the diver or welder who transports it to ponds creating enough for the risk. When the diver inhales oxygen, few particles are projected around the helmet causing contact with other components.
- Hydrogen (fuel)
It occurs as a result of the arc in the fragmentation of the flow of the electrode and the circulating water. During the appearance of hydrogen, this leaves in bubbles, this generates the explosive gas.
During the underwater welding process, a type of resistance welding is generated. Heat generation is imminent by contacting two metal surfaces.
When the diver descends from the surface to perform an emergency welding operation, she is exposed to all three factors. Generally, the explosion is given by the same elements of the fire triangle, putting the welder’s life at risk. First of all, the diver provides heat at the time of descent, and the sea has oxygen.
For its part, the fuel is generated due to the particles that the welding arc emanates at work. Hydrogen is the result which is a harmful fuel element. Remember that oxygen is also formed while you are welding, so if you notice an accumulation of bags, you must notify it immediately.
The dangers of fire within the hyperbaric habitat must be taken into consideration in the depths where you are.
3) Decompression Thickness
The sudden decrease in pressure during the ascent due to rapid ascent gives rise to the risk of decompression thickness. When the lungs have not yet removed all the air, there is an imbalance of the pressures in the lung tissue. With this bad maneuver, there can be a muscle tear or a complete break in the lungs.
- Is Underwater Welding Dangerous?
Of course, it is, and if you don’t make forecasts, you can put your life in danger. Generally, this danger is unusual for divers unless they have to go up in an emergency due to underwater problems. Some bronchial spasms or glottic blockage are also the product of decompression thickness hazards.
At another point, too rapid ascent also generates nitrogen gas bubbles in the blood vessels. This is known as decompressing disease and can be type I and II.
- Type I: Limits the skin, tendons, muscles, and joints
- Type II: Affects the nervous system
Oxygen is essential to living if you do not have the presence of it immediately; the body is altered. The types of drowning in underwater welding are.
- Drowning by Submersion: the individual breathed water and flooded her lungs and bronchi partially or totally. If you breathe water, this prevents air from entering the airways
- Drowning due to syncope: There is no blockage of any respiratory function, as it is caused by a lack of irrigation. The skin becomes progressively pale. This is a lower risk than the previous one and can be saved because the syncope is reversible.
All this happens when the divers enter too cold waters where the body tries to compensate for the difference in heat. The heart needs to increase the number of contractions leading to the organ being unable to exert itself. Syncope occurs, and then respiratory and cardiac functions are paralyzed.
6) Hearing Disability
It is known by the name of barotrauma, the main cause being changes in hydrostatic pressure. When an increase in pressure occurs in the immersion process, it causes pain and injury to the eardrum.
7) Marine Life
This is the least potency risk, but that must be taken into account in the welding process. Under the sea, many dangerous species can be seen brought by the welding light. You must follow immobility techniques in case you are threatened.
How To Prepare To Save From These Dangers?
Depending on the type of risk, you can choose to develop certain techniques that can save your life. The essential precautions, according to the Dangers of Underwater Welding, are.
1) Prevention of Electric Shock
- Analyze the elements and work equipment before entering the water
- Don’t dive for so long
- Used cables must be completely insulated and flexible
- The diver should not be between the electrode and the grounded part
- Use automatic safety switches
- Secure the power source and check that it is in good condition
2) Explosion Prevention
- Plan the area in advance
- Identify existing risks
- Use straight polarity
- Never use alternating current to weld underwater
- A ground connection must be close to the work area
- The diver should not be between the electrode and the ground
- The diver must wear insulating gloves
3) Prevention of decompression thickness
- Control the speed of the ascent
- Breathe during the ascent
- Do not perform rapid ascent maneuvers
- Keep calm in difficult situations
- Control panic
- Before electric shock go up as slowly as possible
4) Prevention by Drowning
- Control strong emotions
- Review the physical conditions of each welder
- Control panic situations
- Check personal protective equipment
- Check the water temperatures
- Rest after each meal before returning to the water
- Do not drink alcohol
- Do not enter the sea abruptly
5) Prevention of Hypothermia
- Do not abruptly enter the water
- Check temperatures before entering
- Lower submergence time
- Wear the appropriate personal protective equipment
6) Marine life
- If you notice the presence of dangerous animals, stop welding, and remain motionless until they are removed.
- Study the area and its species before starting to weld
Taking every risk in marine welding seriously is what ensures every job is safe. All welders need to go through a training process before taking underwater jobs. All the Risks of Underwater welding put the life and health of welders at risk.