(WACO, Texas) – Many welders work in challenging conditions. From confined spaces to fumes to light radiation, the workers need to heed federal and state safety guidelines.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 48 deaths and 100 nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses in 2020 among brazers, solderers and welders in the United States.
Safety is heavily emphasized in Texas State Technical College’s Welding Technology program. First-semester students begin learning about safety in the program’s new student orientation.
“The way that we’ve always done it is regardless of prior experience or first-time people coming in, they all get treated the same,” said Austin Allen, program team lead in the Welding Technology program at the Waco campus.
Allen said some students who are new to the program might have developed bad welding habits that need to be corrected. Instructors can zero in on this when they see students doing something wrong during welding labs.
“The welding we do is not what is depicted on television,” Allen said.
First-semester students are required to pass safety and skill-set tests in the Introduction to Welding Using Multiple Processes class, and safety and oxy fuel skill-set tests in the Introduction to Shielded Metal Arc Welding class.
Allen said a program priority is making sure that the right shade is on students’ welding helmets. He said the lighter the eye color, the darker the shade that is needed.
Students are also required to wear heat-resistant gloves and steel-toe or composite-toe boots. Welding shirts need to be 100% cotton, while pants need to be denim. Earplugs are required in the grinding lab.
Eye protection that includes safety glasses and a welding helmet, as well as a cutting or grinding shield, is required when doing hands-on work.
Quinton Anderson, of Temple, is a third-semester Welding Technology student at the Waco campus. He wears goggles under his welding helmet because he said it is comfortable for him. He said he is most concerned with protecting first his face, then his torso.
Anderson’s advice for first-semester students in the program is to be prepared.
“It will be a challenge, but ask for help and take it slow,” he said.
First-semester Welding Technology student Michael Dunn, of Kerrville, did welding in high school. He said he is adjusting to the program’s safety rules, which were a little more relaxed at his high school.
Dunn said he has been impressed so far with the program’s instructors and facility.
“Every booth has its own machines,” he said. “It’s an amazing experience.”
TSTC offers Welding Technology at each of its 10 campuses located throughout Texas. It is one of nine programs at TSTC that have money-back guarantees. The college’s commitment to participating students is simple: If they do not have a job in their field within six months of graduation, then they will receive a full refund of their tuition.
For more information on the Money-Back Guarantee program, visit tstc.edu/mbg.
For more information on TSTC, go to tstc.edu.