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Welding processes

This is the current approved Code of Practice for South Australia released in March 2019. Safe Work Australia may have adopted more recent, updated Model Codes which may be awaiting consultation and endorsement by SafeWork SA.


Risk management

Risk is the possibility that harm (death, injury or illness) might occur when exposed to a hazard. To get started you need to know the risks associated with welding. When you know what the risks are, you must do whatever you can to eliminate or minimise them. This is called the risk management process.

The risk management process involves four steps:

  1. Identify the hazards - this is known as hazard identification.
  2. Determine how serious the problem is - this is known as risk assessment.
  3. Decide what needs to be done about the problem - this is known as risk control.
  4. Review the control measures to make sure they are working as planned.

Managing the risks

Welding is a potentially hazardous activity and precautions are required to avoid electrocution, fire and explosion, burns, electric shock, vision damage, inhalation of poisonous gases and fumes, and exposure to intense ultraviolet radiation.

Radiation hazards emitted from electric arc and laser welding have the potential to cause eye disorders and skin burns such as 'arc eye' or 'welder's flash'.

Radiation from laser welding is less obvious than from electric welding arcs, but both are serious hazards. Workers directly involved in welding processes are at the greatest risk but other workers could also be exposed to harmful radiation.

As the PCBU you should consider and implement control measures such as:

  • installing non-flammable screens and partitions
  • using signs to warn that welding is occurring - if welding is being carried out, entry into the work area is not permitted unless safeguards are used
  • providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including filter shades for goggles, face shields to protect the eyes from radiation, and gloves and other protective clothing to cover exposed skin
  • reducing exposure to fumes and gases.

Cylinders of compressed and liquefied gases contain large volumes under high pressure. Precautions need to be taken when storing, handling and using cylinders.

Refer to page 16 of  Welding processes - Code of Practice for more information.

The hazards associated with compressed and liquefied gases include fire, explosion, toxicity, asphyxiation, oxidisation and uncontrolled release of pressure. Leaking gas is usually recognised by odour. However, oxygen is odourless and potentially more hazardous.

As the PCBU you must ensure that:

  • you provide any information, training, instruction and supervision necessary to protect all persons from risks (so far as is reasonably practicable)
  • the information, training and instructions are suitable and adequate having regard to the nature of the work and the risks associated with the work
  • the risk control measures, and the training and instruction being provided, are readily understandable
  • no person is exposed to a substance or mixture in an airborne concentration that exceeds the exposure standard for the substance or mixture (refer to page 10 of the Code for more information)
  • air monitoring is carried out to determine the airborne concentration of a substance or mixture to which an exposure standard applies (refer to pages 10-11 of the Code for more information)
  • work in extremes of heat or cold are able to be carried out without risk to health and safety
  • noise levels do not exceed the exposure standards (refer to pages 17-18 of  Welding processes - Code of Practice for more information)
  • PPE is provided and selected by ensuring that the equipment is:
    • suitable for the nature of the work and any hazard associated with the work
    • a suitable size
    • fit and comfortable
    • maintained, repaired or replaced when required and used or worn by the worker.

Refer to page 24 of  Welding processes - Code of Practice for more information.

If you are a PCBU that carries out lead processes, you must provide information about the lead process to a person who is likely to be carrying out the lead process, before they are engaged, and before they commence carrying out the lead process.

Refer to page 18 of  Welding processes - Code of Practice for more information.

As the PCBU you must manage the risks associated with:

  • using, handling, generating or storing of hazardous chemicals, including ensuring that hazardous chemicals are correctly labelled and that workers can access current Safety Data Sheets. Workers' health should also be monitored.
  • electrical equipment, including ensuring that any unsafe electrical equipment is disconnected from its electricity supply (refer to page 12 of  Welding processes - Code of Practice for more information)
  • ignition sources in hazardous atmospheres - flammable or combustible substances are to be kept at the lowest practicable quantity
  • musculoskeletal disorders related to hazardous manual tasks
  • working in confined spaces, including entering, working in, on or in the vicinity of a confined space (including a risk of a person inadvertently entering a confined space).

As a PCBU conducting welding activities you should also refer to the following Codes of Practice:

Review of processes

Workplaces and work environments can change as new hazards are introduced or when current hazards are eliminated.

Therefore you should regularly review your welding processes, in consultation with your workers and the Code, to ensure they remain adequate and effective in managing associated risks.

Refer to page 8 of  Welding processes - Code of Practice for more information.