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PPE & Safety
Oxy-fuel processes can pose hazards for beginner welders if the proper cutting torch safety techniques are not followed. A cutting torch is designed to cut metals efficiently and quickly in various applications. The equipment finds extensive application in the construction, manufacturing, and public work sectors. Cutting torches are likely the most dangerous welding equipment. A cutting torch used during the oxy-acetylene process generates a flame of over 3200 °C. Any improper use or improper maintenance of a cutting torch can cause serious or fatal injuries.
Understanding and adhering to the requirements of cutting torch safety is essential to ensure safe operation and minimize the risk of accidents. Further, it is always recommended to refer to and follow manufacturer instructions before using any equipment. In this article, we will review proper procedures to ensure cutting torch safety.
There are a few factors to consider when using oxy-fuel processes to ensure you stay safe and achieve optimal results.
Before starting to work, make sure the floor is fireproof. If working on a wooden floor, you need to wet the floor with water or cover it with sand. Do not store any combustible materials in your workshop as they can get easily ignited by the torch sparks and flames. The work environment should be fireproof with adequate ventilation to eliminate any toxic gases released during the cutting operation.
During the cutting process, it is important to protect yourself from flying sparks, slag, and bright light. Make sure to wear personal protective equipment designed for welding and cutting operations. These include goggles with tempered lenses, gloves, aprons, and safety shoes. Keep your clothes free of oil or grease as sparks can quickly set them on fire.
Oxygen cylinders are painted green and contain oxygen compressed up to up to 2,200 psi. An accidental fall can damage the cylinder valve turning the cylinder into a lethal projectile. Chain the cylinders to prevent an accidental fall.
Acetylene and oxygen are stored in separate cylinders. If you are using oxy-acetylene, always light the acetylene gas first. If you are using alternate fuel gases with oxygen, you can light the torch with both gases flowing.
Dust and dirt in the regulator valve can ignite if it comes into contact with oxygen. Vent the regulator valve before attaching it to the cylinder to blow any dust or dirt away. Ensure the filter in the regulator inlet is always clean and in place.
To prevent any strain or sudden surge on the regulator, it is recommended to open the oxygen cylinder valve slowly. While doing so, remember to stand to one side.
It is important that you purge each hose independently. To do this, open the valves one at a time for a few seconds.
Every regulator gauge is printed with the expression, “use no oil”. Never clean the connection or regulator with oil or grease. Before handling cylinders, make sure to keep your gloves and hands-free of oil or grease.
Oxygen can burst into flames when in contact with oil or grease. Always open the cylinder valve slowly. If the cylinder valve is opened quickly, then the heat of recompression generates an ignition temperature. The presence of oil or grease and oxygen in the area can cause a dangerous explosion.
Use the correct tip size and pressure as each tip is designed for a specific pressure. Too much pressure can cause the system to back-pressure and reverse flow. Too little pressure can cause the tip to sputter and pop resulting in flashback or backfire.
While the oxy-fuel process can be hazardous, taking proper safety precautions can prevent injuries and keep your equipment running smoothly and efficiently.