Selecting welding safety clothes Selecting welding apparelt Selecting welding boots

Images credits: Fook Luck Auto; OSHA; UK Welder

 

Welding jackets and clothing are items of personal protective equipment (PPE) intended to protect welders from metal splatter and high heat by the use of fire resistant and thermally insulating materials. These articles are essential to protect welders from the adverse risk of welding, and come in many varieties according to the application's needs. This analysis will cover the safety options for the head, torso, legs, and feet of a welder; welding gloves, welding helmets/goggles, and respirators are thoroughly represented elsewhere on IHS GlobalSpec.

 

Welding Jackets and Clothing Operation

Apparel explicitly designed for welding applications lend their capabilities to the material of their construction. These items are composed of fire resistant and durable fabrics that usually offer degrees of abrasion and electrical resistance. These items are adorned like many other clothing items and snap closures, nylon straps, and leather strings are the typical means of binding articles. These items benefit from enhanced seams consisting of Kevlar® and a metal foil liner, typically aluminum.

 

Fabrics of construction vary, though the most common material is leather. Some clothing items may elect to utilize a combination of materials; jackets with leather sleeves and a cotton body provides the wearer some garment respiration while protecting the arms.

Leather

Created by the tanning of animal hide, this material is very durable and exhibits good thermal and burn resistance properties. The most common leather comes from cow and pig hide, though other options such as deer or elk are produced. Leathers dry considerably over time. Leather products are either top grain or split grain--a cutting/tanning method used to make the product less abrasive to skin.

Cotton

While cotton is very flammable, chemically altering the cotton's structure is an effective means of adding fire resistance to the product. It has better flexibility than leather, but lower durability. Sateen is a derivative of cotton accomplished by mercerization in caustic soda. It has a softer feel and a different thread technique but also flame resistance. Cotton is also regularly intermixed with nylon fibers.

Aramid/rayon

A combination of two synthetic fibers, welding jackets composed of aramids and enhanced rayon offers tight-fitting designs with good splatter resistance.  Aramids are often used as a replacement for asbestos. Enhanced rayon fabrics are durable and comfortable but non-insulating; the aramid is responsible for heat and flame protection. 

Carbon fiber

Several manufacturers market protective welding clothing under brand names that utilize some type of carbon fiber. Carbon fibers are renowned for their high-temperature utility when combined with graphite and these clothing articles must undergo processes to make the garment less stiff.

Denim

While not optimal for welding operations, denim is a thick, rugged material that will protect welders in operations that are low in volume and intensity. 

Rubber

Rubber is not a material typical for welding jackets or caps, but does find use in welding chaps, boots, and boot covers.

 

It should be noted that many items for welding applications begin to lose some flame resistance after washing and some garments may be susceptible to fire damage after just one laundering.

 

Items of Welding Apparel

The following protective items are commonly available from welding supply companies. 

Aprons

Aprons are not typically sized, but offer standardized lengths with adjustable neckstraps. They offer sufficient protection from the chest to the knee, but do not cover shoulders or arms.

Selecting welding aprons

Image credit: ECW

Bibs

Welding bibs are strapped around the neck, offer sufficient protection to the lower neck and upper chest, but zero protection anywhere else.

Welding bib

Image credit: Grainger

Boots

Typical leather work boots are usually enough for irregular welding duties, but dedicated welding professionals may elect to purchase boots with lace covers to prevent material burns. Welding boots have additional temperature resistance as well. Boots are sized according to a marketplace's ordered footwear dimensions.

weldoing boots

Image credit: UK Welder

Boot covers

This slip-on or slip-over shields attach around the ankle and prevent sparks and splatter from compromising footwear integrity. They are most often attached with velcro or nylon strapping.

Welding boot covers

Image credit: Enviro Safety Products

Caps

Hats explicitly meant for welding do not replace the superior protection offer by welding helmets, but are useful when operators elect to use welding goggles. These caps often resemble the shape--but not composition--of a safari helmet, including steep brim projecting over the forehead. Other forms include elastic, chemically treated beanies. These items are can be adjustable. Welding caps are rarely leather in composition.

Welding cap

Image credit: Stinger Caps

Chaps

Welding chaps are leg coverings that are not joined at the crotch and do not have a seat. These protect the welder's legs and are secured by an integrated belt. They usually accommodate a variety of waistlines, but come in standardized lengths.

Welding chaps

Image credit: Lapco Mfg.

Coveralls

Akin to a jumpsuit but looser fitting, these items cover a worker's entire figure, minus neck, head, and feet. Collars do provide some limited neck defense. Industrial coveralls offer the best coverage of a welder's person, but can be troublesome to negotiate. These typically come in standardized sizes, including nominations indicating chest size as well as height. These are almost exclusively cotton.

Welding coveralls

Image credit: Motorsport Tools

Jackets

Jackets extend from the neckline to the waistline, while also providing sleeves for the welder's arms. Collars will help guard the worker's neck area. Half-jackets either do not terminate protection at the abdomen or do no protect the welder's back. These are frequently sized by chest thickness.

Selecting welding jacket coat

Image credit: Northern Tool & Equipment

Leggings

Leggings are sheaths meant for the protection of the shins only, similar to greaves. Denim is the most common material for leggings, and these usually employ a fastening mechanism such as a spring-loaded strap or velcro.

Welding leggings

Image credit: Weldas

Overalls

Overalls are similar to aprons, but have attached leg coverings as well as a seat. These are typically made of denim, and are sized by waist and height.

Welding overalls

Image credit: Calolympic Safety

Sleeves

Welding sleeves only protect the welder's arms. These provide adequate protection in low volume welding processes.

Welding sleeves

Image credit: DC Glove

Many pieces of welding clothing feature inside pockets or pockets-in-pockets to protect stored components or personal artifacts from the welding process. Additionally, some welding PPE may have enhanced weatherability for outdoor use, or be brightly colored for high visibility.

 

Welding Jackets and Clothing Standards

Many industrial regulating agencies require employers to evaluate occupational risks and provide PPE to workers to minimize personnel hazards. Some agencies, such as OSHA, may impose federally-mandated fines for non-compliance. Their article 1915.152 details PPE policy in the United States. Other standards bodies have issued documents detailing the requirements of protective clothing. ISO 11611 outlines specifications for two classes of welding applicable clothing. It draws from other documents like ISO 9150 which covers the resistance of materials to molten splatter. Finally, ASTM 6413 conveys manufacturing standards regarding the flame resistance of PPE.

 

Resources

 

Cyberweld - Miller Welding Protective Clothing & Eyewear

 

Wikipedia - Usage of personal protective equipment

 

Miller Electric Manufacturing Co. - Hand & Body Protection - Apparel

 

Grainger - Welding Aprons; Welding Jackets and Coats; Welding Chaps and Spats