OSHA has a lot to say about ventilation, air circulation within welding shops. That’s because over exposure to the dust, welding particulates and weld fumes that are produced can be hazardous to ones health, and may even cause lasting damage. Heat within the shop is another issue that has been related to other employees health issues, such as heat stroke or heat exhaustion. When combined with heavy PPE (personal protective equipment), high temperatures can make welders uncomfortable, which can lead to a reduced productivity and safety issues. A part of the solution to these problems is the use of a combination of local wall or roof mounted exhaust fans, general ventilation and cooling fans.
We sell a multitude of fans that can help ensure the safety and comfort of your welders and those working around them. These range from portable fume and dust extraction fans to evaporative coolers, belt and direct-drive duct mounted fans for exhaust and make-up air.
Why and How to Ventilate Welding Shops
Welding generates gases, smoke and fumes. Many of the particles are small enough to penetrate deep into the lungs and others are toxic. Depending on the type of filler metal and materials being welded, fumes can include arsenic, beryllium, chromium and manganese. Gases range from relatively harmless nitrogen to things like phosgene and fluoride.
Exposure to welding gases and fumes causes a variety of health problems. At the milder end these include irritation of the eyes, nose and throat to dizziness and nausea. In the worst case possible consequences include stomach ulcers and damage to the kidneys and nervous system.
Good ventilation pulls these hazards away from both those performing welding and others nearby. OSHA recommends local exhaust ventilation as the primary method, supplemented by general shop ventilation.
Exhausting weld fumes outside creates a better working environment for those in the welding shop, but leaves two other problems. First is the need for makeup air. While this will find ways into the shop it’s better to have it directed by ducting systems and fans.
Second, if makeup air is drawn from outside it needs heating or cooling to suit the shop environment. An alternative approach is to filter extracted air and return it to the shop, saving on heating and cooling costs.
Welding shop ventilation and air circulation can be a complex topic, but we sell commercial and industrial grade fans to address most all the health and comfort issues within these type facilities. Here’s an overview of what’s available.
These fans are intended for general exhaust or intake supply ventilation through ducting. Belt-drive fans are especially effective where the ducting runs are longer and/or there are a lot of bends or elbows that increase static pressure. The belt drive version means that the motor on these units sit outside the air stream, which means the system can handle an atmosphere that may have dust particulates as the norm. This version typically can move more air at highher static pressures, while alos running at a lower decibel level due to the slower RPM that the blade turns. A downside is that the fan assembly occupies slightly more space and needs additional maintenance.
The direct-drive version of these duct fans are designed with the motor in the air stream, and the fan blade turns at motor speed. These fans require that the air flow be clean and dry. A good choice when space is tight, these need relatively little maintenance. In general, they are slightly lower cost than belt-drive alternatives.
These fans are typically 4" to 12" in diameter and are intended for smaller scale ventilation systems where ducting runs are shorter. In may cases, these duct mounted fans are used in specific workstations to help remove fumes and/or dust. They are an alternative to wall or roof-mounted exhaust and supply fans.
These devices are designed for local fume, smoke and dust extraction. The intake is placed directly at the welding bench, cubicle or station in a position that pulls the smoke and fumes away from the welder. We offer both portable and stationary versions of these extractor fans.
A workstation air circulating fan blows air through the workplace. Typically mounted to wall, ceiling, bench or floor, these are great air movers for supplying cooler air that helps welders stay comfortable. Models are available that deliver up to 7,500 CFM.
Also good for supplying a cooling breeze are pedestal fans. These units are easily moved around to wherever they are needed. Both non-oscillating and oscillating models available. The oscillating models distribute air over a wider area. We carry these fans in blade sizes from 22" to 30" in diameter, and up to 12,000 CFM of air movement.
These portable air movement fans are essentially much larger versions of pedestal fans, and move much more air over a larger area. These fans can be set at door openings to help draw cooler air into the welding shop or room, or turned the other direction to pull hot, stale air out of the room. With units providing CFM's up to 30,000, we have you covered no matter the area size.
When a cool dry breeze isn’t enough, you may need an evaporative cooling fan or otherwise known as a swamp cooler. These cool by water evaporation. The fan incorporates special water-soaked pads through which it pulls the warm air. Heat is given up to evaporate the water with cooler air being returned to the shop. We sell many different brands, types and sizes of these portable coolers, so please call and ask for advice.
Ensuring Safety with Ventilation
Good ventilation is essential in welding shops. It keeps workers safe and comfortable, reducing the risk of injury and longer term health problems while increasing productivity.
Industrial Fans Direct carries a full line of ventilation and air circulation products for both large and small welding shops and fabrication facilities. Whether you facility requires fume and or dust extractors, duct inline exhaust fans for moving air through duct work, pedestal fans, workstation air circulator fans, or portable drum fans for area cooling and air movement, we have your business and its workers covered. We are proud to offer quality manufactured fans and blowers by companies such as Avani Environmental, Canarm, National Fan Co., Airmaster Fan, Hessaire, Cool-Space, Triangle Engineering Fans, Soler & Palau and TPI Corp.
There are many ways of handling welding shop ventilation and it can help to get advice from people who know the options. For more information, speak with our experts. Call now at 866.727.1060