O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 31

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fabricator spends the better part of his
waking hours at work. That means welding, cutting, forging, grinding, finishing,
painting and blasting. The product of that
labor is a thing of vast beauty and utility.
The byproduct, not so much.
Fabricating produces a passel of gases
and airborne particulates that are inimical to your health. The air about you fills
with welding fumes, including metallic
oxides, silicates and flourides. Then,
there are the particulates; airborne
motes from grinding, cutting and blasting. None of this is any good for you; some
of it is extremely bad.
Welding
Welding fumes are formed when the
workpiece or flux is heated above its
boiling point. The fumes vary according to which material is being used.
While fluxes with silica or flouride will
yield metallic silica, amorphous silica,
or flouride fumes, steel will give off
fumes from the various additives in
it; chromium, nickel, manganese, etc.
Then, there is the shielding gas fumes
which contain carbon monoxide. Even
the super-heated air around the workpiece will breakdown into ozone and
nitrogen oxides.
It bears mentioning that welding
stainless steel comes with an additional byproduct: hexavalent chromium
and manganese. This has already been
addressed on these pages.1
All this is assuming you are welding
naked metal. Add some coatings or residues and you've opened up a whole new
container of atmospheric nasties. Your
lungs will be treated to aldehydes, diisocyanates, phosgenes and phosphines.
Polyurethane will give off hydrogen cyanide and formaldehyde. Vinyl will give off
hydrogen chloride gas. And so it goes.
So how bad is this for you? A few
exposures probably won't harm you. But
remember, we're talking about repeated,
cumulative exposure. In a year's worth of
average 40-hour workweeks, a fabricator will have inhaled roughly 7.2 million
times. Each unprotected breath is an
insult your body.

Not to say that a single exposure can't
be lethal if in great enough magnitude.
Consider the fate of Jim 'Paw Paw' Wilson
of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. A
prominent blacksmith, Wilson knew well
the effects of zinc oxide (ZnO) fumes on
the human breathing apparatus. Yet in the
spring of 2005, he inexplicably placed a
load of galvanized steel pipe in his forge.
Within minutes, a miasma of yellow smoke
billowed from the forge, overwhelming
all ventilation, and filled the shop. The
smoke's yellow hue was characteristic
of zinc oxide, which causes metal fume
fever. Wilson suffered acute symptoms at
first, which after several days seemed to
go away. Within two weeks he was dead.
Sure, that was a lot of smoke at one
time. Would it be less lethal if amortized
over an entire career? Maybe, maybe
not. Better to be on the safe side. And
that means getting a handle on the air
quality in your shop.
The first step is an evaluation of the
air in your shop. This should be done by
a professional. You could call in a private
industrial hygienist. Or you could have the
state do it for free. Every state offers a
consultation service to evaluate the air
quality in your shop. They'll even help
you with information about setting up
a filtration system within the context of
your budget. The air quality consultation
service is generally done by the state's
OSHA which is outside the purview of
the federal OSHA. And fear not, the state
OSHA won't share any of your information with the feds; mainly because to do
so would be illegal. And they won't pester you afterward. You contact the consultation service by calling your state's
Department of Labor.
The air quality evaluation involves taking air samples. This is done by means of
a pump worn about the belt. The pump,
which is designed to mimic the air intake
of a worker's typical breath inhalation,
draws in ambient air and collects it in a
filter cassette. Several pumps may be
worn to collect different types of contaminants. The pumps are about the size
of a cigarette pack; the filter cassette is
the size of a silver dollar. The employee

will wear the pump for an entire work day,
after which the cassette is removed and
sent off to a lab for analysis.
Once the results are back, the next step
is to set up an air cleansing system for the
shop. Again, you can hire a private consultant, but your state's OSHA will do it for
free. Some welding supply manufacturers
will also offer this service. Whoever helps
you with the design, the actual installation
is best left to an HVAC technician.
Suck it Up
The main line of defense should be a
proper local exhaust ventilation system.
These come in several types. It can be
located at a fixed point in the shop, venting directly outside. Some have a single
point of operation. A downdraft table
is a good example. Other local exhaust
ventilation systems have multiple tubes
that snake over to wherever there's work
that requires some filtration.
There are also portable systems that
do not vent air externally. These units
typically contain multiple stages of filters that vent cleansed air back into the
shop. These portable units can be easily
brought to wherever they're needed.
It doesn't really matter which one you
use, but you should be aware that a system that externally vents is removing
from your shop. This lowers pressure
inside, and as we know, nature abhors
a vacuum. Even a slight one. The upshot
is that the room will start looking for
sources of air to equalize the pressure,
that is, bring it back up again. The problem is when it uses your forge chimney
as a source of air. It will start sucking the
air from the chimney back into the room,
smoke and all. This is known as a stack
effect because it essentially converts
your shop into one big smoke stack. The
solution is to provide the room with a
proper source of makeup air. This can
be anything from a screened opening in
the wall to a filtered duct complete with
a fan, or simply cracking some windows.
If You Can't Filter it, Mask It
According to the U.S. Department of
Labor, there are approximately five million

November/December 2017 * O&MM Fabricator | 31



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017

President’s Letter
Letter From the Executive Director
NOMMA Network
NOMMA Education Foundation
First Look: 2018 Metalfab / Fencetech Attendee Brochure
It's in the Air
A Fabricator’s Ergonomics
Seven Costly Management Mistakes
Supplier Members
New & Returning NOMMA Members & Iron Club Members
Gold Members
High-Tech Laser Machine Allows Business to Boost Productivity and Expand Product Offerings
Index of Advertisers
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - intro
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - cover1
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - cover2
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 3
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 4
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 5
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 6
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 7
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 8
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 9
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 10
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - President’s Letter
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 12
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - Letter From the Executive Director
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 14
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - NOMMA Network
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - NOMMA Education Foundation
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 17
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 18
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - First Look: 2018 Metalfab / Fencetech Attendee Brochure
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 20
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 21
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 22
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 23
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 24
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 25
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 26
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 27
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 28
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 29
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - It's in the Air
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 31
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 32
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 33
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 34
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 35
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - A Fabricator’s Ergonomics
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 37
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 38
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 39
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 40
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - Seven Costly Management Mistakes
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 42
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 43
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 44
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - Supplier Members
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 46
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - New & Returning NOMMA Members & Iron Club Members
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 48
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - Gold Members
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 50
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - High-Tech Laser Machine Allows Business to Boost Productivity and Expand Product Offerings
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 52
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - Index of Advertisers
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - 54
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - cover3
O&MM Fabricator - November/December 2017 - cover4
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