Last Updated on June 2021
It is common knowledge that water and electricity do not mix. But what if there is an urgent job or tight deadlines – is it safe to weld in rainy weather? This is a legitimate question that crosses the minds of many novice welders.
Statistics show that various wet conditions have led to the injury of more than 500,000 people. Welding in the rain or moist conditions is a risky undertaking because welding currents travel more here. Even simple sweaty hands can lead to shocking effects as you feel electric currents shoot up your arm. Additionally, welding in the rain makes the steel wet; therefore, welding currents cover more considerable distances, and this can cause an electric shock for your colleagues as well.
However, it is not illegal to weld in the rain. According to OSHA standards, cited in 29 CFR 1926.351, 1926.354, and 1926.406(c), there are no regulations prohibiting welding in the rain as long as you have the proper protective equipment and welding safety gear.
It is, therefore, a personal call to weld or not to weld in the rain. This article will provide you with valuable tips in the event that you must complete your weld work in rainy or wet conditions.
Tips and Tricks for Welding in the Rain
1. Reschedule the Assignment
While it is not always possible, the best option is to postpone the job until the weather gets better.
2. Where Possible, Move Indoors
If postponing the job is not an option, consider relocating indoors as it will give a more convenient space away from distractions such as wind blowing your shielding gas away. This works well for smaller jobs but if your equipment is too heavy or bulky to move around, consider putting up a waterproof plastic cover as your shelter.
This prevents rainwater from blocking your vision, enabling you to see clearly and correctly set up. It will also ensure the weld surface remains dry and give a deeper weld penetration of better quality.
3. Use the Proper Gear
Always make sure you have the proper gear before starting any welding work, especially in the rain. These include:
Welding boots – Invest in a good pair of welding boots or rubber boots. The rubber soles in these boots increase your insulation from electricity and protect you from getting an electric shock.
Ensure to keep the boots dry and in good condition because when wet, it is meaningless to work in them as their safety component has been compromised.
Welding gloves – your hands are the first point of contact with the stick and welding gun. It is essential to protect them by wearing thick welding gloves. Rubber gloves provide better insulation compared to the basic leather ones.
Keep an eye on your gloves to ensure they are not getting damp from the rain or sweat, as this can cause an electric shock. Also, keep a dry piece of cloth at hand to wipe off the moisture from time to time. Remember to examine your gloves for any kind of defects before starting the work.
Dry clothes – these go a long way in stopping you from being a part of the electrical circuit.
Use a raincoat – this supports the above point of keeping your body and clothes dry at all times. Go for the waterproof leather jacket or simply slide on a simple raincoat over your cotton or nylon jacket. You may also duct tape the gloves with long sleeves and collars to ensure you remain dry throughout the process.
4. Check Your Lead and Ground Clamp
All the electric currents pass through your weld lead and ground clamp cables, and if any of these are exposed through cracks or tears, they could get you electrocuted. Ensure that neither is lying in the water and if they have any cracks, wrap in electrical tape or replace the cable.
Check for damage in cables and joints.
Ensure proper insulation of all-electric wires and joints in your setup. If you spot a crack on the insulation, use an insulated tape to cover it adequately. Even if a cable is well insulated, it should never be left immersed in water.
5. Review Your Surroundings
Have a plan before starting any welding work. What you should be looking for in your surrounding are water puddles to avoid, shelter for your welding machine, standing position when working, no roof leakages, wet floors to avoid.
Carefully wipe off any moisture from your machine using a dry piece of cloth. If it gets wet, quickly shut it down.
Check the wind direction as this can be cumbersome if it blows away the shielding gas from the weld pool.
Get rid of all flammable objects.
Ensure everyone around the working area is fully donned in the correct personal protective gear.
6. Avoid standing in a water puddle
Many accidents can occur if you are working on a wet floor. Your welding boots could also get wet and muddy, reducing their protective layer.
Imagine a scenario where you are welding while standing in a puddle of water puddle, and at the same time, the ground clamp is lying on the ground. You have a high chance of being electrocuted if the clamp produces an arc that can quickly run through your body instead.
7. Wipe off sweat
Sweat is often an overlooked weld hazard.
Even without rain, working outside under the sunlight naturally leads to sweat. When the sweaty wet gloves come in contact with a live wire, the result could be fatal.
To be safe, always wipe the sweat off your body or change clothes whenever they get wet from sweating. Remember, sweat contains small amounts of sugars and salts, making it a good conductor of heat.
8. Work with a DC Voltage Source Instead of AC
It is advisable to work with DC power, especially if you must work while it is raining. This is because AC voltage is approximately five times riskier than DC, increasing the danger of electric shocks passing through your body.
Many people consider welding as an indoor activity due to the many environmental interferences and hazards discussed above. However, experienced welders will tell you that they weld outside and even in the rain all the time. Coupled with the fact that it is not an illegal affair, we can conclude that welding outside or inside boils down to personal choice and obligation. As long as you take the necessary precaution regarding your personal protective gear, safe work environment, and use of proper tools, all should be well.
Finally, always have someone on standby while you are welding in the rain for emergency purposes. In case things go south, you have someone who can act quickly to minimize any potential fatalities.