Welding Flash Burns

Welding is a common activity in the agricultural work environment; its health effects have recently been thoroughly reviewed. Welding involves heating pieces of metal such that they liquefy and join together. Energy to raise the temperature of the metals may come from electricity (electric arc welding) or from the burning of gases such as acetylene. Temperatures reach several thousand degrees Celsius, and the process generates electromagnetic radiation across a wide frequency spectrum. Electric arc welding generates large amounts of ultraviolet radiation. This can lead to an acute keratoconjunctivitis ("arc eye"), acute skin burns ("flash burns") similar to sunburn, and chronic skin damage. The most commonly affected body parts are the face, neck, hands, and forearms. Radiant heat carried by infrared electromagnetic energy may also cause burns and skin damage (5).

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