Welders in Texas workplaces may consider the risk of fire to be the most hazardous aspect of their jobs, but the toxic fumes produced by either pressure or fusion welding could be just as dangerous in the long term, according to information from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The fumes produced by welding equipment often contain traces of dangerous metals such as arsenic, lead and beryllium as well as toxic gases like carbon monoxide and hydrogen fluoride.
The federal safety agency urges employers to add discussions about the dangers of toxic welding fumes to their safety training for those who work in environments where welding will be done. OSHA also stresses the importance of proper ventilation and the usefulness of respiratory equipment when welders must work in tight spaces. The agency also reminds welders to keep their work spaces clean, as dirt and grime can release highly toxic substances when burned.
Even brief exposure to welding fumes can cause nausea, dizziness and throat, eye or nose irritation, and prolonged exposure has been linked to cancer of the urinary tract, larynx and lung. These fumes have also been known to damage the nervous systems and kidneys of welders and those who work in poorly ventilated areas where welding is done. In confined areas, welding fumes can cause breathing problems and could even lead to suffocation.
Workers' compensation cases involving those who have suffered a minor workplace injury are generally processed promptly, but claims made by workers who have developed debilitating diseases while on the job may sometimes be contested by employers concerned about rising costs or similar claims being filed in the future. The causes of serious medical conditions like cancer can sometimes be difficult to pin down, and experienced workers' compensation attorneys may call upon oncologists or other medical specialists to establish that a worker's medical condition was primarily caused by workplace conditions.