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Fumes and Gases

Fumes and Gases can harm your health. Keep your head out of the fumes. Do not breath the fumes and gases caused by the flame. Use proper ventilation. The type and the amount of fumes depend on the type of materials, equipment and supplies used. Air samples can be used to find out what respiratory protection is needed.

  1. Provide enough ventilation wherever gas welding, cutting and heating operations are performed. Proper ventilation will protect the operator from the evolving noxious fumes and gases. The degree and type of ventilation needed will depend on the specific operation. It varies with the size of the work area, on the number of operators and on the types of materials used. Potentially hazardous materials may exist in certain fluxes, coatings and filler metals. They can be released into the atmosphere during heating, such as for welding and cutting. In some cases, general natural-draft ventilation may be adequate. Other operations may require forced-draft ventilation, local exhaust hoods, booths, personal filter respirators or air-supplied masks. Operation inside tanks, boilers, or other confined spaces require special procedures, such as the use of an air-supplied hood or hose mask.
  2. Check the atmosphere in the work area and ventilation system if workers develop unusual symptoms or complaints. Measurements may be needed to determine whether adequate ventilation is being provided. A qualified person, such as an industrial hygienist, should survey the operations and environment. Follow their recommendations for improving the ventilation of the work area.
  3. Do not weld, cut or heat dirty plate or plate contaminated with unknown material. The fumes and gases that are formed could be hazardous to your health. Remove all paint and galvanized coatings before beginning. All fumes and gases should be considered as potentially hazardous.

Heat Rays and Spatter

Heat rays (infrared radiation from the flame or hot metal) and spatter can injure eyes and burn skin. Wear correct eye, ear, and body protection.

Flames and hot metal emit infrared rays. Operators may receive eye and skin burns after overexposure to infrared rays. Long overexposures may cause severe eye burn. Hot welding spatter can cause painful skin burns and permanent eye damage.

ApplicationLens Shade Number*
Brazing3 or 4
Light cutting, up to 1”3 or 4
Medium cutting, 1” to 6”4 or 5
Heavy cutting, over 6”5 or 6
Light welding, up to ⅛”4 or 5
Medium welding, ⅛” to ½”5 or 6
Heavy welding, over ½”6 or 8
*As a rule of thumb, start with a shade that is too dark to see the work zone. Then go a lighter shade which gives sufficient view of the work zone without exerting a strain on your eyes.

Wear safety goggles made for gas welding and cutting purposes. They will protect your eyes from radiation burns and from sparks or splatter. Use the correct lens shade to prevent eye injury. Choose the correct shade from the table above. Observers should also use proper protection.

Protect against eye injury, mechanical injury, or other mishaps. Wear safety glasses with side shields when you are in any work area.

Wear clean, fire-resistant, protective clothing. Some operations produce sparks and spatter. Protect all skin areas from sparks or spatter. Avoid spark and spatter traps by wearing a jacket with no pockets and pants with no cuffs. Sleeves should be rolled down and buttoned. Collars should be buttoned. Wear high, snug-fitting safety shoes and gauntlet gloves. Protect your head by wearing a leather cap or hardhat. Wear ear protection where there is a chance of sparks of spatter entering your ears. Do not wear clothing stained with grease or oil, as it may burn if ignited by the flames or sparks and spatter. For high-heat work, such as heavy cutting, scarfing or oxygen lance operations, face shields, fire-resistant apron, leggings or high boots may be needed. Remove all flammable and readily combustible materials from your pockets, such as matches and cigarette lighters.

Protect neighboring workers. Shield your station with metal or heat-resistant shields.


Wear ear-protective devices or earplugs when heavy cutting, scarfing or oxygen lancing is being performed or in noisy work areas. In addition, proper ear protection can prevent hot spatter from entering the ear.

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