Underwater Welding Dangers And Health Issues: How Dangerous Is Underwater Welding

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If you’re a new welder or have ever worked under an underwater welder, you must have heard about how important safety gear is to work under the water. 

It’s because underwater welding is not only a lucrative career but also a dangerous job. Now, you may be wondering how dangerous underwater welding is? Don’t be scared!

Underwater welding fatalities are pretty rare, like plane crashes, but the chances of health hazards are a little higher than working in the sky.

We’ll discuss why underwater welding is dangerous and the risks and hazards of working as a marine welder in the following discussion.

Why Is Underwater Welding So Dangerous?

Underwater welders face higher chances of work-related safety and health risks than most marine employees. According to OSHA, commercial divers and underwater welders experience incredibly high rates of tragedy.

This job is dangerous since the chances of underwater welding accidents are over 10%. Yet people choose this career.

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It’s because this career is enticing and challenging. On top of that, the demand for underwater welders is high worldwide. 

What Are The Dangers Of Underwater Welding?

A number of underwater welding risks and dangers can lead to death or chronic disease for underwater welders. Here are some examples:

Electric Shock

Electrocution is the major threat to underwater welders. Generally, water has low resistance against electricity, for which electric current can flow through the water freely, just like a hot knife through the butter.

That’s why it’s essential to carry proper equipment that’s electrode waterproof and suitable for working underwater. 

Since the arc underwater is unstable and erratic, a welder must have the experience to secure the welder gently; otherwise, the risk of a welder getting electric shock is pretty high.

Explosion

When hydrogen and oxygen combine, numerous gas pockets are formed. And if these gas pockets are ignited, it can lead to an underwater welding explosion.

If you hear any popping noise during welding under the water, this means oxygen and hydrogen are forming bubbles. 

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In this scenario, you should stop welding right away and look for the place where bubbles are forming.

Drowning

Sometimes, a welder face malfunction problem in their breathing equipment like – hoses, mask, or oxygen tank.

It’s one of the biggest terrific situations for welders, especially when they can’t come to the surface immediately.

That’s why it’s crucial to check your breathing and all other welding equipment to make sure everything is working functionally.

Decompression Sickness

Underwater welders and divers may suffer from decompression sickness when they ascend too quickly from a high pressure zone to a low pressure zone. 

This way, nitrogen bubbles can enter the welder’s bloodstream and cause chronic diseases. It can cause joint pain, rashes, paralysis, even death to welders.

Below are some things divers should avoid to prevent decompression sickness:

  • Climbing quickly after a deep dive
  • Constant underwater diving
  • Making yourself dehydrated

Lung, Ear, And Nose Damage

There’re many underwater welding hazards, but this one is mostly seen among old welders. This health hazard can also be found in welders who spend lots of time in higher pressure water zones. 

Hypothermia And Frostbite

The deeper the water, the colder it gets. When a welder goes deeper under the water, his body temperature will keep dropping.

If any welder remains in cold water for too long, it can cause metabolism or organ failure issues due to extreme loss of heat. It can also damage skin cells and tissues and make your body freeze.

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That’s why having a well-insulated rubber wetsuit for an underwater welder is essential to protect themselves against extreme temperatures.

Risk Caused By Marine Life

The light coming from welding can attract plankton and fish during the welding task. And these marine lives may get into the way of welding work and cause delays in completing the task. The problem is not common, but it is associated with many risks.

Underwater Welder Death rate: How Many Underwater Welders Die A Year

It’s tricky to provide an exact rate for underwater welding accidents, and fatalities since big industries like the Bureau of  Labor Statistics don’t keep track of welding accidents.

Since big industries like the Bureau of Labor Statistics don’t keep track of welding accidents, it’s hard to get an exact number for underwater welding accident, and fatalities.

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But in a few studies, some information has come to light that the rate of welding fatalities is as high as 15% in a year. 

However, according to some research, in 1978, the United States had an average of 6 to 13 welder deaths per year. And only 1 commercial diver died in 1943 due to electric shock underwater.

Although underwater welding safety issues are many, the rate of underwater welding is low. Plus, the equipment for wet welding is also improving every year, making the welding job safer for welders.

Click here to find out more about: Common causes of underwater welding deaths

FAQs

Does underwater welding shorten your life?

Welding tasks are involved with high electric current, intense heat, very bright light, and dangerous fumes. That’s why proper training and safety gears are very important. But if the welding task is done with accuracy, it shouldn’t shorten someone’s lifespan.

Is it possible to set up a MIG welder without the use of any tools?

How many hours do underwater welders work?

Usually, underwater welders don’t have work every day. Welders need to work around 40 to 45 hours on average per year.

Is underwater welding hard?

In reality, wet welding is a hard job. Because underwater welders are faced with risks and diseases every time they go under the water. However, if a person is skilled enough to cope up with all the undesirable situations, it may make the job easier.

Find out more: How Does Underwater Welding Work

Conclusion

So now you know how dangerous is underwater welding and how it can affect someone’s health.

But a lot of people are interested in this career path since it’s one of the demanding jobs and pays well. 

If you choose to walk in this path, make sure you always be prepared to face any situation under the water, and most importantly, don’t panic, it may make the situation more dangerous.

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Also, having functional and welding issue-proof equipment is necessary to ensure your safety while working.