Q: Is welding dangerous to the health of shipyard workers?
Yes, shipyard workers are exposed to serious occupational health risks due to welding activities.
When combined with hot metal and dangerous gases, an electrical arc can create burn risks, neurological damage, and respiratory problems.
Maritime Welding Dangers
Maritime workers face a number of health hazards due to welding, including:
- Skin and eye burns. The bright, hot arc generated by welding can cause burns to the outer membrane of the eye, or cornea. Ultraviolet light from the arc can also cause sunburn, and drops of melted metal may burn exposed skin.
- Neurological problems. Welding can expose workers to substances known to cause neurological problems, such as:
- Lead. This metal is commonly found in paint. Welding something that contains lead can produce lead oxide fumes, leading to anemia, central nervous system problems, and brain damage.
- Manganese. This metal is found in many alloys, and elevated levels of manganese in the body can cause serious neurological problems.
- Respiratory dangers. There are numerous breathing hazards associated with welding. When the inert gas used to shield the arc builds up in a confined work space, it can displace enough oxygen to make breathing difficult. Welding can also produce potentially dangerous substances, including:
- Nitrogen oxides and ozone. These gases are a byproduct of the ultraviolet light from a welding arc. They may irritate mucous membranes and lead to fluid buildup in the lungs, known as pulmonary edema.
- Mercury. Vaporization of substances such as paint on the surface of the metal being welded can create toxic smoke and fumes. Many types of paint commonly found on ships contain mercury, which may cause respiratory failure when exposed to welding temperatures.
You Need an Attorney
If you have health problems caused by welding in a maritime environment, you need representation by an experienced attorney to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. To learn more about what the law offices of Steve M. Lee, P.C., can do for you, visit us on Facebook.