ANSI Z49.1-2021: Safety In Welding

Welder Wearing Safety and Health Equipment Adhering to ANSI Z49.1-2021.

In outer space, metal will automatically mold together as a result of there being no oxidation in the way of the metal molecules. This is known as cold welding, and it was discovered in 1969 when Russian cosmonauts, experimenting with welding in space, crewed the Soviet Soyuz 6 mission. ANSI Z49.1-2021: Standard for Safety In Welding, Cutting, And Allied Processes covers the safety and health aspects in the welding environment.

What is ANSI Z49.1-2021?

ANSI Z49.1-2021 emphasizes oxygen gas and arc welding processes and provides some coverage about resistance and high energy beam welding, brazing, and soldering. This American National Standard contains precautionary information about the protection of personnel and the general area, ventilation, fire prevention and protection, and confined spaces.

It is important to note that the standard does not pertain to the design or manufacture of equipment, such as piping systems, station outlet equipment, bulk gas supply systems, and building electrical installation. The overall purpose of ANSI Z49.1-2021 is to provide protection of:

  1. Persons from injury and illness.
  2. Property (including equipment) from damage by fire and explosions arising from welding, cutting, and allied processes.

What is Welding?

Welding refers to the joining together of metal pieces, thermoplastic, or wood via heating the surfaces to the point of melting by using a blowtorch, electric arch, or other means, and then fusing the surfaces together by pressing or hammering. Welding is predominantly done with metals like steel and is the most efficient way to permanently join metals together. Skyscrapers, barbeques, coffeepots, railroads, and more require welding.  

Welding is vital to the U.S. economy as over 50% of the United States’ gross national product is related to welding. Welders belong to the following groups:

  • Repair services:  includes the maintenance and repair of automobiles or electrical machinery
  • Mining, oil extraction, and gas: involves the drilling and extracting oil and gas or mining of ores, stone, sand, and gravel
  • Metal industries: include steel mills, iron and steel foundries, smelting and refining plants (usually involves maintenance and repair of equipment)
  • Electrical and electronic Equipment companies: includes work on electric generators, battery chargers, household appliances, etc.
  • Public administration: hires welders to perform maintenance welding done on utilities, bridges, government armories and bases, etc.
  • Wholesale and retail establishments: consist of auto and agricultural equipment dealerships, metal service centers, and scrap yards
  • Artists and sculptors: have a large impact on the public as they have designed and constructed fountains, sculptures, playgrounds, and more in neighborhoods around the world (e.g., St. Louis Arch, Chicago Picasso, The Grand Canyon Skywalk, and Yankee Stadium).

There are even robots that perform welding. In 1961, General Motor’s Unimate, the very first industrial robot, was a single-arm unit designed to perform spot welds, and it revolutionized the world of manufacturing. The Unimate weighed over 4,000 pounds (over two tons) and did its work, which consisted of taking die casting from machine and performed welding on auto bodies, from step-by-step commands stored in an attached magnetic drum. Today, the Unimate can be found in the Robot Hall of Fame, housed in the Carnegie Science Center.

What Equipment for Welders’ Protection does ANSI Z49.1-2021 Cover?

ANSI Z49.1-2021 defines a “Welder” and “welding operator” as a person who operates any electric or oxyfuel gas welding or cutting equipment, or allied processes. Further, the standard states welders shall wear welding goggles, gloves welding helmet, welding faceshield over spectacles, protective clothing, and/or goggles during all oxyfuel gas welding and cutting and submerged arc welding operations. This equipment is important for eye and face protection from hazards like arc rays, spatter, and weld sparks that may strike against a welder’s helmet.

Where Did Welding Begin? – Ancient Egypt

While welding did not become the process that we recognize today until the late 1800s, welding existed in some form since the Bronze Age (~4000 BC -1300 BC). Archaeologists have found the oldest examples of welding in Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean. Some of the oldest examples of welding can be seen in Egypt’s ancient pyramids, where hieroglyphs depict welders at work.  Here is a timeline of pivotal welding moments during the Bronze Age:

Over time as welding improved metals like tin, gold, bronze, iron, and steel welds gradually were incorporated throughout the Bronze Age. Since then, welding has evolved to include modern techniques that are rooted in safety and allow for enhanced performance.

ANSI Z49.1-2021: Standard for Safety In Welding, Cutting, And Allied Processes is available in the ANSI Webstore.

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