Welding can be a flexible and rewarding career path, but it can also be a physically demanding job. Endurance and overall physical fitness are some of the most important tools in a welder’s proverbial belt, and without them, you may not be as safe or productive. But how, exactly, do you make sure you stay fit and healthy as a welder?
Welding isn’t a sedentary job, so you won’t suffer the same health risks as workers who sit at desks in offices. However, that doesn’t mean you are immune to chronic work-related conditions. The repeated use of handheld electrical tools, especially those that vibrate or are too small, can increase the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. 1 Welding often requires welders to assume awkward positions and perform repetitive physical tasks. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers (51-4121) may have to work high off the ground, operate in awkward and confined areas, lift heavy objects, and stand for long periods to perform overhead work. 2
Cardiovascular exercises, such as running, swimming or cycling, can help you build endurance for long days on the job by strengthening your heart and lungs. 3 Though you’ll be wearing a respirator when ventilation is inadequate, it’s important to avoid respiratory problems in tight, dusty, and fume-filled spaces.
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Whether you’re still in a welding program or you’ve spent decades on the job, it’s always a good time to get more serious about your physical health. A nutritious diet is a crucial to a healthy lifestyle, especially for those who have a physically demanding job.
Your body needs energy to perform physical labor, and the most intense labor requires large amounts of energy in the form of calories. If you’re an active man under 50, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that you need up to 3,000 calories per day simply to meet your body’s energy demands. 4
While every welding student receives safety training, it’s wise to remember that welding can be dangerous if you’re not careful. Safety risks can include harmful fumes, open flames, and electrical arcs with radiation and bright lights.
Your health and ability to work are at stake every time you work without proper protection, especially if you are exposed to UV radiation, fire, and heavy, powerful equipment. Following safety procedures is integral to being a successful welder. Remember that every safety rule protects your (and your coworkers’) physical health, so you must take them seriously. Follow all safety protocols, codes, and safety recommendations by the American Welding Society to avoid preventable injury.
Of course, safety gear plays a big role in minimizing your risks as a welder. Tulsa Welding School recommends ten welding safety tips to ensure your on-the-job protection, and protective attire is a significant part of welder safety. To avoid “welder’s flash” and long-term damage such as cataracts and retinal burning from the arc’s light, make sure your eyes are protected and your helmet’s filter lens meets the minimum recommended shade for each project you undertake. Wear ear plugs or muffs to protect your ears from sparks, flame-resistant aprons to protect your chest from radiation and fire, and clothes without any synthetic fabrics or rolled cuffs.
Long-Term Benefits of Prioritizing Health
Your diet and exercise should reflect the work you do as a welder, and if you achieve the right balance, your regimen can help you avoid injury and even become a better welder. Staying fit and healthy on the job may also positively affect other parts of your life.
1 – https://consumer.healthday.com/encyclopedia/work-and-health-41/occupational-health-news-507/welder-tips-646276.html
2 – http://www.bls.gov/ooh/production/welders-cutters-solderers-and-brazers.htm#tab-3
3 – http://www.livestrong.com/article/545028-heart-and-lung-endurance-exercises/
4 – http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/usda_food_patterns/USDAFoodPatternsSummaryTable.pdf