View Full Version : Welding...a safety warning

05-19-2006, 06:58 AM
Hey guys!
With all the home shop welders here...thought I'd share this.
I was air arc gouging a week ago on a big excavator bucket.
I wear all the proper heavy duty safety equipment.
"Somehow" a big piece of molten slag got into my damn boot and burned it's way right down to the top of my foot.
I was hopping around, trying to get all the safety gear ond boot off.
Finally got it off, grabbed the metal and pulled it off. Burnt my fingers to top it all off.
Now I'm fighting a badly infected third degree burn about the size of a quarter.
It's right where my boots all bend so it keeps getting iritated and won't heal up.
Take care when you are welding. It can be a very dangerous "sport".
I've had hundreds of little burns and a few bigger ones. You get sort of immune to them til one like this bites you.

John Stevenson
05-19-2006, 07:01 AM
I can just imagine this, dancing about to the tune of Wide Eyed and Legless by Marty Feldman and Heather Mills.


05-19-2006, 07:23 AM
I can just imagine this, dancing about to the tune of Wide Eyed and Legless by Marty Feldman and Heather Mills.

LOL! No...it was mostly X rated music that was playing at the time! :D
Still can't figure how it got in there....tall leather lace up boots done up tight, jeans and coveralls on top....must be magic!

05-19-2006, 08:58 AM
...must be magic!


Magic is only in the eyes of the beholder.

Take care of that foot. Hard to heal, and can definatly cause problems if not allowed to heal properly.

Have danced to the same song different tune. Try a hot grinding spark rattling on your ear drum, will make you move with nowhere to go.


05-19-2006, 09:12 AM
Sorry to hear about that, torker. Hope it heals up as quickly as possible with no further problem.

The first item of safety gear I got when SWMBO got me a MIG machine, after the helmet and gloves, was the leather chaps that go around the lower leg and over the shoes.

My very first welding experience, many years ago, came when the boss let me have a go at TIG. It was a sheet metal shop, and the machine was all setup for the material at hand. It was idling between jobs, and I got to try some Al welding. A nickel sized piece of slag got between my foot and the tongue of my shoe. It hurt like hell, but was very entertaining for the others in the shop. It also took too long to heal. (As do most injuries to "useful" parts of the body.)

05-19-2006, 10:00 AM
Same thing happened to my father-in-law years ago when he was welding for White Truck. A glob of hot material somehow snuck inside his boot and badly burned his foot. Took a long time to heal. Take care of that.

05-19-2006, 12:20 PM
I know exactly what that feels like.about 35 years ago I was opening the charging door on top of a blast furnace, had to put my foot against the furnace wall to pull the door open, when it broke loose some of the spilled charge went down the top of my boot. I had a very bad burn that took months to heal and as long ago as it was ,I still haven't forgotten.

05-19-2006, 12:30 PM
Ah yes, hot slag balls!!!! When I was taking welding in Vo Tech they started us off with o/a running beads on little scraps of steel (coupons). As newbies we all tended to get the tip too close to the puddle and POW, the acetylene would detonate and blow gobs of 5000 degree metal into the air. There is nothing like the smell of burning hair and skin when one of those lands on your head.

Russ, take care not to let that get infected as it can really cause you lots of grief. I have nothing but respect for professional welders. I have seen them calmly weld on while parts of their anatomy smoulder so they don't mess up the bead they are running. That is why I will never be more than a "welder of necessity."

Jim (KB4IVH)

my shoes smell bad enough without smoke coming out of them!!!

05-19-2006, 12:34 PM
Hmm, I guess I was truly playing with fire when I first got my Mig welder from HF and was welding some plate just wearing shorts. Yeh, I dont have a welder anymore...

05-19-2006, 12:42 PM
Here ya go Bill


Weston Bye
05-19-2006, 12:44 PM
...gas welding a rust hole inside the fender of a '49 Chevy pickup. The wheel was removed and the truck was on a jackstand. I was sitting on the floor with my head and shoulders in the fender well, me, the torch and filler rod curled around the axle and brake drum. The weld popped and a ball of slag rolled up and followed the curve of the inside of the fender until it lost momentum then dropped straight down - onto the top of my head. :eek: I couldn't just drop the lighted torch, or the filler rod with the red hot end. I couldn't easily extricate myself from under the truck, so all I could do was let it burn while I shut down the torch and lay down the filler rod and climb out. I felt for the blob of steel, turned out to be about the size of a BB and melted over half its diameter into my scalp and surrounded by a neat ring of burned hair. Had to pry it out with my pocket knife. Surprisingly, no long term pain and the crater healed up without a trace.

05-19-2006, 01:02 PM
Laying on my back on the ground doing semi-overhead welding on the side of a car trailer (running bead on the bottom of a D-ring tie-down). Had all the gear on - leather jacket, helmet, safety glasses, full-length gloves etc...

then a hot piece of slag goes right in my ear. Earplugs are now part of my gear when doing overhead welding.


05-19-2006, 01:31 PM
For those who have had the spatter in the ear, doesn't it make the strangest sound as it heads for your eardrum? It is a sound I will never forget. I also remember welding a half inch gap in some Al extrusion, when I sudenly found out I was not paying attention to where my rod tip was. A 1/4 inch ball fell off the end, directly into my sleve. It rolled down the sleeve, around the arm, and down my side untill it came to a rest at my belt. My sleeve was on fire, but I only had about 1/2 inch to go, so I finished the weld while a mig welder was telling me I was on fire, like I didn't know. I told him to come put it out. When I finished, and put the fire out, I understood why he hadn't, he was rolling across the shop floor laughing.

I hope your foot heals soon. try several layers of bandage to help reduce the iratation.


05-19-2006, 01:58 PM
Yikes, I'm gonna be more careful! I can associate some bit with the landing on the head thing. I was welding something the other day sitting on a firebrick which was sitting on the ground, and I got all hunched over in a little ball, exposing the top of my head to the world. Every so often a nice little flux-core-mig ball would land right there, give me a little sting. Not fun, can't imagine a big one in a shoe!:eek:

05-19-2006, 02:00 PM
Russ, do you know about Karma? was a free mill worth it all? Or it just could be the mill is cursed didn't you say the previous owner died?

;) :)

Tin Falcon
05-19-2006, 02:42 PM
Take care of the foot and the family. Most of us that have had a chance to live and enjoy life have had to deal with the loss off those around us. Sorry to heart of your loss and good to hear you in good spirits. Yes welding can be fun did production welding for a while and had to deal with the"Fire Flies" juming down your neck. Also managed to set the cuff of my pants on fire with slag from a cutting torch. Told my wife that is why welders were leather gloves. So you do not burn your hands while putting your pants out.

05-19-2006, 03:57 PM
Sorry to hear that Russ. Hope it heals quickly for you.

05-19-2006, 05:09 PM
For those who have had the spatter in the ear, doesn't it make the strangest sound as it heads for your eardrum?

One of my most frightening (if brief) experiences was when lying under an old boat cutting off a rivet head with the OA torch, a bit of burning iron found its way into my ear and *through* my eardrum. It seemed to be burrowing deep into my head & I briefly had visions of it reaching my brain.
Had an operation 6 months later to repair the eardrum, it's never really been the same since. Quite convenient sometimes, it was my left ear & I generally sleep on my right side (good right ear to the pillow). The partial deafness can be quite convenient sometimes :) :)

Earplugs have been mandatory for any work like that ever since.

05-19-2006, 05:25 PM
An old tried and true execution/torture technique was to slowly dribble molten lead into the victims ear...

I have visited the Justice and Torture museum in Rotenburg ob der Tauber in Germany. I don't recommend it for children...

05-19-2006, 07:19 PM
Ho boy! I'd forgotten about the "sizzler" in the ear. Was cutting under a gravel truck once and a pretty good size bit of molten slag fell in my ear also.
I know what you mean about the horrid sound it makes.
I tried to get to a water tap to drown the thing but it was too late.
Still can't hear out of that ear very well either.
I've worn ear plugs for years since that happened.
Was probably one of the most painful things I've ever felt.
Wolf...geez...I hope this isn't the beginning of some "curse".

05-19-2006, 07:53 PM
When I first got induced to welding I was helping a welder fabricate some stainless pipe. I got a very bad "sunburned" face.

A few months ago, my neighbor was welding something outside his shop and I commented about him working in a short sleeved shirt. He thought that no more that he had to do it would not hurt. The next day he has some very red arms. He said they where hurting some.

I have also had buckshot burns.

05-19-2006, 08:30 PM
Those ole slag balls can find thier way almost any where , even when well suited up. i had a close call on an ear sizzler one day and started wearing ear plugs , it might have worked never had a bad one in the ear. If you weld enough you will get burned and you will catch on fire , i been on fire many times,,,, less when i started using masking tape on any frayed clothing

05-19-2006, 09:45 PM
Had a big one go down hightops land along side inner ankle bone and melt in.For 2 weeks I would wake up screaming in pain when I would move around in bed at night. Family did not get much sleep. Now about the drill that grabbed going through some sheet metal and went rest of the way at 1 turn per revolution, cannot tell where that ONE ended up, just happy no scars.

05-19-2006, 10:57 PM
Oh man the sizzler,down the ear is always fun,molten slag in the(got to be)lace up boot is fun too,but for me nothing compares to the time honored clothes on fire:D

I was welding overhead in a man basket atop a forklift when my leg started feeling warm,I finsihed my weld,flip the shield off and started beating the flames out.Burned a hole 4x12" in my jeans leg,but being one to make lemonade I had a new pair of cutoff shorts:D

I highly recomend a set of sheetmetal spats,since I did see the result of a guy who caught a shoe full of flux.One of those big old hopper fed sub-arch rigs ran off the end of a seam when he was tending it,about two cups full of flux ran/dribbled off the table into his boot before he moved.He stuck it in the water tank which was a mistake since it made steam and burned his leg under his pants leg.Took him a long time to heal.

Russ,take care of that foot,if you see any red or yellow streaks starting up your foot,get to a doctor quick.

Forrest Addy
05-20-2006, 12:25 AM
When you get into heavy duty gouging your safety equipment should depart from the welder's and borrow from the furnace and ladleman at the foundry. They wear the boots with a lace-in instep guard and soles that shed hot metal if you step in any.

05-20-2006, 08:59 PM
a few years ago i was welding a new sill on a ford sierra, space was really tight, i remember having a really bad build up of ear wax and nothing i was using would shift it, untill i arced up, a piece if spatter hit dead on the spot, it all happened that quick, all i heard was a crinkly bubbling sound, well it sure got rid of that wax, then not so long ago i was helping a friend clear his garden of rubbish, the trailer was loaded to the brim as he pulled off the trailer ran over my boot! the boot indented between my toes,,but i couldnt get the boot off quick enough,,,god that hurt,,

05-21-2006, 12:45 AM
I have had remarkably few injuries from power tools and none from welding even when welding overhead on heavy steel at 350 amps (beard burns don't count). I did sunburn my hands and arms a bit once when using a carbon arc torch, those things put out mega amounts of UV.

I was drilling a hole in something many years ago using a power hand drill with a 1/8" bit in it. I don't recall what it was but I was steadying it on the floor with my foot, in socks only inside. Some sort of renovation project. The bit slipped off the work and immediately drilled a hole right through my foot. Fortunately it was in the web between my big toe and second toe. That hurt slightly but did no damage.

The worst accident I have had with a power tool was when I was in my teens. I was out in the woods bucking up wood with my chainsaw. It had a big spike guard on the front of the saw that extended out on the bottom about 6" so you couldn't easily chop your leg with it. I was in the habit of resting it on my left upper leg between cuts when buddy moved the log for the next chop. The guard kept it from biting.

We stopped for a smoke break and I noticed a rip in my jeans on the left upper leg. I thought to myself "Hmm, reminds me of the time I fell of my bicycle at 50 mph". That time the rip was in the right knee.

I looked inside the rip, had a pretty good idea what I would find. Yep, a very large and untidy rip in my leg about halfway up the outside of the leg and about 3" long. The guard had fallen off.

Ok, time for a trip to local emergency. Washed it out, put in about 30 stitches, give or take a few and took the rest of the day off. It didn't hurt and I never felt it happen at all. I still have an scar from it. My pain sensing system is completely screwed up and doesn't work when it should and does work when it shouldn't. Frequently the first warning that I may have injured myself is when I see the blood on something else. Then I have to do an inventory to figure out where the damage is.

As a result, I have become extremely careful over the years about power tools. I get plenty of scratches from sharp metal edges and other very minor cuts but don't consider them a hazard. But power tools like rotating machinery, saws, lathes, drill presses etc I really pay close attention to what I am doing and where my fingers are. I have only been bit twice using a lathe, once while winding a spring and got about three instant cuts in a row on my hand when the bitter end ran out through my fingers and once fairly recently when I lost my grip on a handle and my index finger slipped into the path of a fly cutter. Neither was serious but I really have to watch out because one of the aspects of my medical condition is very rapid fatigue of all muscles, including my grip.

Burns do hurt but I developed fireproof fingers at an early age. I began fiddling with electronics when I was maybe 6 or so and by the time I was 12 my dad had moved me out of the house into my own shop, it used to be a garden shed. I got really used to holding wires in place while the solder cooled and developed handy notches in my fingernails for stripping wire. I think the main reason my dad gave me my own shop was so I wouldn't burn down the house.

Although I haven't been seriously injured by power tools, excepting the chain saw injury, I have had a variety of injuries from other causes. about four broken bones including both bones at the wrist in my right arm, in my hand and a toe or two. I fell once on the Squaw Valley downhill just after the Olympics doing about 60 mph. Sorta screwed up my left knee that time. Wasn't my fault, someone left a broken off gate pole that was sticking out a couple of inches from the ski run and I hit it in a sweeping turn.

Almost died on more than one occasion, was riding a Norton Atlas 750 in the Sierras with buddy on the back and came to a pretty sharp turn in the road. He wouldn't lean enough and we ended up in the gravel on the cliff side. I managed to keep it on the rubber and get back on the road but was only a few inches from free fall about 500 feet.

Playing with fire was a big hobby of mine when I was young. I would "steal" chemicals from my dad's science lab and take them home to my shop. I experimented with a variety of rocket fuels and explosives including making nitroglycerine and contact explosives, thermite, guncotton and numerous other devices. I had a bunker set up in the back field with a periscope and an electrical detonating system for testing new formulas.

I still remember the really good designs and formulas I came up with but the materials are just a bit harder to come by these days. Trying to buy that stuff now would ensure a quick trip to the rebar hilton.

Back then I would also buy basics like KNO3 from the pharmacy. The pharmacist would ask "So, son, whatcha gonna do with this stuff?" I would tell him it was for a science experiment and he would say, "Ok" with a nod and a wink and sell it to me. Back then the Soviets had just launched Sputnik and America was in a state of panic. Anything to do with science was highly encouraged, especially if it was in any way related to rocket science. Blowing things up was close enough for most people since that was what most of the American rockets did anyway.

Hmm. Running off at the keyboard here tonite. More work tommorow if it doesn't rain. We have no back deck at the moment as I dismantled it today. I have to rebuild it tommorow with those 2 x 6's I bought. The dog was talking to me and trying to explain that she had no idea how she was going to get into the house for supper. I told her that she wasn't and would have to stay outside and go hungry. I better go get her inside now from the other door that she is never usually taken out through and hope she doesn't bite me. :D