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Alert: Electrical Hazards Associated With Welding Equipment

  • Issued: October 16, 2014
  • Content last reviewed: September 2017

Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help the workplace parties understand some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations. It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations. For further information please see full disclaimer.

Background

Workers may be exposed to electrical hazards while performing welding activities, especially in wet or humid conditions at workplaces. Welding may be performed during, the fabrication of new structures, repairs to existing ones, repairs or modifications to equipment or machinery. This alert has been issued to raise awareness about the potential for serious injury or death if welding equipment is not properly operated, maintained or set up.

Hazard summary

Anyone who operates welding equipment shall be made aware of the shock or electrocution hazards associated with its use. Workers may be exposed to fatal or critical injuries by improper use, or set up of welding equipment. In addition to regularly maintaining welding equipment, workers should be performing daily assessments/inspections on their equipment and worksite to reduce the risk of injury due to electrical hazards. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Properly grounding the welding equipment as close as possible to where work is being done.
  • Inspecting extension cords/welding cables for damage or insulation breakdown.
  • Inspecting electrode holders for damage, loose connections or bare wires.
  • Inspecting personal protective equipment (clothing, gloves) to ensure that it is free from any damage or defects.
  • Ensuring footwear is electrically insulated.
  • Assessing weather conditions if working outdoors. If working under wet conditions, ensuring clothing and gloves remain dry.
  • Using insulating barriers to protect workers from direct contact with metal parts.
  • Using voltage-reducing devices to greatly reduce the chance of being electrically shocked.
  • Using ground fault circuit interrupters/protection where extension cords or portable power tools are used with welding tasks.

Receiving an electrical shock from welding equipment should not be treated as part of the job. Workers who receive an electrical shock while welding should report immediately to a supervisor and seek medical attention. The welding equipment should also be removed from service.

Applicable legislation and regulations

Some requirements that may apply are:

  • Mining – Good Electrical Practices, subsection 155(2) of Regulation 854 (Regulation for Mines and Mining Plants)
  • Industrial – Machine Guarding, sections 40, 43, 44, and 44.1 of Regulation 851 (Regulation for Industrial Establishments)
  • Construction – Equipment, section 93, Welding and Cutting, Section 124, and Electrical Hazards, sections 183, 185, 187, 195, 195.1, 195.2, and 195.3 of O. Reg. 213/91 (Regulation for Construction Projects)
  • Health Care – Equipment, section 44, and Electrical Equipment, sections 62, 69, and 70 of O. Reg. 67/93 (Regulation for Health Care and Residential Facilities)

Other regulatory requirements that may be of interest are:

In addition to the regulations referenced above, clause 25(2)(h), of the Occupational Health and Safety Act requires all Ontario employers, regardless of the type of work, to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers. Clauses 25 (1)(b), and 25(2)(a) require employers to maintain equipment in good condition and provide information, instruction and supervision to workers to protect their health and safety.

Given the seriousness of this hazard, it is advisable that workers be properly trained on, and follow, the manufacturer's instructions for using welding equipment. Failure to adhere to these steps can result in serious injury or death.

Reference material

For more information

Or contact the Ministry of Labour Health & Safety Contact Centre at 1-877-202-0008.

Remember that while complying with occupational health and safety laws, you are also required to comply with applicable environmental laws.

Permission is granted to photocopy Ministry of Labour alerts. Please distribute them widely and post them where people will see them.

ISSN: 1195-5228

Disclaimer: This web resource has been prepared to assist the workplace parties in understanding some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the regulations. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations and reference should always be made to the official version of the legislation.

It is the responsibility of the workplace parties to ensure compliance with the legislation. This web resource does not constitute legal advice. If you require assistance with respect to the interpretation of the legislation and its potential application in specific circumstances, please contact your legal counsel.

While this web resource will also be available to Ministry of Labour inspectors, they will apply and enforce the OHSA and its regulations based on the facts as they may find them in the workplace. This web resource does not affect their enforcement discretion in any way.