Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  26 Jan 2009

MANUFACTURING: Welding Made Safer


Recent Western Cape Business News

THE Department of Labour (DoL) is increasingly clamping down on companies that do not comply with health and safety regulations as laid down in the OHS (Occupational Health and Safety) Act. It is therefore essential for companies to take cognisance of preventative measure for controlling environments construed as hazardous to worker health.

According to Apex Strip Curtains managing director Wim Dessing the demand for Apex welding and safety screens has increased in line with the additional focus being placed on worker health and safety in South African industry.

Welding in a confined space poses the danger of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, created by the electric arc in the welding process. Skin exposed to UV can be severely burnt, while infrared radiation can damage the tissues under the skin, producing thermal burns. The intense visible light generated by the welding process can cause various eye injuries and retinal damage.

So, it makes sense to provide a solid barrier to the UV radiation. However, a solid wall barrier is costly and sometimes impractical. Makeshift protective measures include erecting wooden or metal partitions, or hanging opaque canvas sheeting from the ceiling and crossbeams. Standard tinted PVC material, while providing a visible barrier, will not provide the protection required. In fact, all of these measures fall short of total worker protection and safety.

Flexible welding enclosures created by heavy duty vinyl curtains and portable welding screens allow for rapid set-up while giving adequate protection and flexibility. These enclosures confine weld splatter and prevent fumes from migrating into other work areas, as well as protecting the eyesight of those workers in the immediate vicinity, including supervisors.

Apex welding and safety screens are made from a specially-formulated PVC material which incorporates a heavy duty UV light absorber ensuring that dangerous UV radiation is safely contained in the curtained-off area. The screens absorb, scatter and filter the light spectrum to create a safer working environment for the welder and surrounding co-workers.

Dessing says that extensive tests conducted by the SABS have proved that Apex welding and safety screens are superior to conventional materials. Tested for visible light transmittance, conventional material lets 78% of the light through, while the specially formulated Apex material only allows 15.5% of the light through.

Made from advanced materials, the screens constitute the near-ideal transparent welding curtain, offering good visibility and minimising the arc glare better than any other transparent welding curtain while still reflecting usable light back into the work area.

“Our welding and safety screens are also impervious to burning. This is of particular importance should the material come into contact with welding splatter,” Dessing adds. The patented Balledge design on the individual strips facilitates easy access for both personnel and equipment to cordoned-off areas.

The screens are available in several configurations to suit individual requirements. “We have found that the most popular version is the one with a freestanding frame, which allows easy handling and portability,” Dessing says. The angled feet of this screen allow optimum utilisation of floor space, while the screens can be butted together at a 90° angle.

“Whichever option one chooses,” Dessing says, “our welding and safety screens are easy to set up and arrange in different shapes to meet work demands. Our design engineers can assist you in coming up with a solution which ideally fits your application and environment.”

Dessing cautions that welding screens are not intended as a substitute for proper eye protection or direct viewing of welding arcs at close range.

In addition to welding and safety screens, Apex markets a range of general purpose PVC strip curtains, high-speed roll-up and fold-up doors and industrial impact traffic doors.

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