Top 5 Safety Features to Look For in a Welding Helmet
Safety is always incredibly important when it comes to any type of industrial work, and welding is no exception. There are a lot of ways you can get hurt while welding, and thankfully most of them can be prevented by using the right helmet. Read on to learn about the five most important features you should look for in a welding helmet to guarantee the highest level of safety possible.
Official Safety Certification
Buying a welding helmet that has some form of compliance with an official standard for safety is the best way to ensure that you are going to receive the best protection while you work. Many models are made to meet ANSI standards for protective eyewear, which covers protection from specific aspects of a work site environment, though you should always check compliance with the national safety standards for whatever country in which you plan to use the helmet. Most manufacturers will list this as part of the product description, though you may need to contact certain companies to check their full certification levels.
Proper Shade Ratings
Even if a helmet has official safety certification, you still need to take several precautions to make sure that you’re using the helmet in the right way during each job. The first step is to make sure that its lens has the right shade rating to protect your eyes from the damage of looking at a welding arc. For passive lens models, this means checking the shade rating against your welding method (i.e. stick or MIG) prior to working. If you have an auto-darkening filter helmet, then you should compare its shade range to your welding method to make sure that it falls within those numbers.
Fast Response Time
Shade response time only matters for auto-darkening filters, as a passive filter is only going to work if you manually put it in place. The response time refers to the filter’s ability to detect an arc and darken the display to give you the right type of coverage before the light reaches your eyes. The slowest response time you should look for is 1/3600 of a second, though 1/1600 of a second is recommended for anyone with a higher level of experience or that is working on a more complex jobs. If you’re going to be doing something like tack welding, which involves a great deal of starting and stopping, then a very fast response time is necessary to ensure that you always have protection when the arc is active.
Adequate Head and Face Coverage
This one is far less technical, as it’s literally about making sure that you don’t have any exposed areas while wearing the helmet. Many models will cover the face, but may not cover areas like your ears or neck, leaving them exposed and at risk of damage from flying sparks or debris. Depending on your size, it may be necessary to purchase a larger helmet or additional safety products such as a bib or bandanna, though these are not necessarily strict requirements. It all comes down to your personal comfort level.
The fit of the helmet is also very important for safety because it affects your ability to work correctly. If the helmet is too big and can slip down, it might obscure your vision in the middle of a weld and cause you to harm yourself or someone around you. Many helmets offer adjustable straps that allow you to create a snug fit that won’t slip or slide around, ensuring that the helmet stays in place while you are wearing it.
A Final Word on Safety
No one safety feature is more important than the other, so always take each factor into consideration when you look through each listing. In the end, you’ll need to consider the full functionality of the helmet in order to determine exactly how safe it is to use.