Effect Of Welding Radiation (UVR) On The Eye And Skin


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There are different forms of radiations, like the visible light, infrared and the ultraviolet radiation, these different radiations have different wavelength; the point of concern in this article will be on the ultraviolet radiation (UVR).

Arc welding produces the full spectrum of ultraviolet radiation (UVR), making arc welders more at risk to develop arc welding related effects.

Read AlsoRadiation safety precautions

Research has opined that exposure to UVR produced by the welding arc may lead to acute skin or eye reactions, chronic skin or eye disorders, or exacerbation of photosensitive diseases.

Acute exposure is said to be associated with – Photokeratoconjunctivitis (Welder’s flash) and Skin erythema.


Chronic exposure is said to be associated with – Actinic elastosis, actinic keratoses, ocular melanoma, and photosensitive diseases.


Effect Of Welding Radiation

Exposure to UVR affects both the eye and the skin in different ways:

Effect of UVR on the eye:

  • Pain – Ranging from a mild feeling of pressure in the eyes to intense pain in severe instances
  • Tearing and reddening of the eye and membranes around the eye (bloodshot)
  • Sensation of “sand in the eye”
  • Abnormal sensitivity to light
  • Inability to look at light sources (Photophobia)

The form of eyes injury characterized by these symptoms are called Arc eye,” “Welders’ eye” or “Arc flash.

Case – control studies have shown that arc welders are at increased risk of developing ocular melanoma.


Effect of UVR on the skin

Chronic exposure to ultraviolet radiation can result to skin burns or skin cancer (Though not yet fully proven).


The level of symptoms depends mainly on the intensity of the radiation and the distance from the welding arc. Other factors include the angle at which the radiation enters the eye, and type of eye protection use.

Read AlsoOccupational effect of ultraviolet ray


Prevention of Occupational Exposure to UVR

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines protect workers from excessive exposure to UVR with personal protective equipment (PPE). In addition to UVR protection, PPE needs to protect welders from other risks including trauma from welding debris (Slag), fires, electrical burns, and fumes.

Also, welders are advised to work in ventilated areas with respirators specific for the metal being welded and to wear clothing and gloves that are not only fire retardant but also UV resistant. Additional PPE should protect the head, face, and eyes.


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