A welder is responsible for the joining of materials through the heating or application of pressure on these materials. The process of welding can be used in a number of different scenarios. This may include but is certainly not limited to soldering, brazing, arc welding, and resistance welding, as well as solid state welding. Flame cutters are often also considered to be similar in job description to welders as their job consists of using a flame comprised of oxygen gas to heat certain metals before they are cut.
Welding has been an essential job throughout the last century as without welders there would be no skyscrapers and the shipyards would not have been as advanced as they were during the wars. Welding permitted both buildings and ships to be constructed both more efficiently and quickly, therefore leading to the saving of money and time.
Asbestos and Welders
Welding involves working with fire as well as heat. Because of this, welders were probably often exposed to asbestos both within buildings as well as shipyards where they worked. Before warnings were issued against asbestos, the mineral could often be found within welding rods. This meant that the smoke which was produced during the process of welding probably contained small fibers of asbestos which would have been only too easy to inhale. After the welding process was completed, the excess material would often be removed by grinding. This would further disturb the asbestos and lead to increased inhalation by the welder.
To protect their bodies from fire and extreme heat that are closely linked with a welder’s occupation, these individuals would often wear fire and heat resistant clothing that was composed of asbestos. These items included aprons, masks, gloves, and coats which added instead of detracted from the risks. Additionally, welders would often use blankets composed of asbestos in order to cover the welding area so as to protect themselves from the extreme heat that was generated during the process. The aging of these blankets would often lead to the inhalation of the asbestos fibers present in the material.
Welders who were employed in this profession before the 1970s are especially at risk for diseases that are known to be caused by exposure to asbestos. These conditions include asbestosis as well as mesothelioma, which is a rare yet aggressive form of cancer that is solely linked to the inhalation or ingestion of asbestos.