Welding Journal Cover Feature: How to Help Improve Welders’ Safety and Productivity Shipbuilding Case Study

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Industrial shipbuilding requires large numbers of welders. The health and safety challenges that accompany this work can often include eye injuries, respiratory exposure to weld fume, and heat management.

Historically, Newport News Shipyard (Newport News, VA) has utilized a number of individual pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) to help protect their welders. This includes passive welding helmets, grinding shields, reusable half-facepiece respirators, protective eyewear and hearing protection. The purpose of this study was to evaluate an innovative PPE solution to help improve welder productivity, worker safety and comfort, while continuing to meet all applicable U.S. OSHA workplace safety requirements.

The objective of this study was to compare welder productivity between two differing PPE configurations: the traditional stand-alone welding shield with multiple pieces of additional PPE and a new integrated welding system technology that combines these PPE components into a unified solution. Productivity was measured using cumulative daily wire consumption per hours worked per welder. Additionally, secondary metrics included weld quality, visibility, ease of use, and comfort that were measured using a survey and interview tool for participating welders.

Read the whole study in American Welding Society’s Welding Journal by clicking here or on the article cover below. This study was conducted and authored by Joe Sabol, Welding Journal Shipbuilding Case Studya Director of Welding, Shipfitting and Metrology at Newport News Shipbuilding, and Dru Branche, a Director of Environmental, Health, Safety & Security at Newport News Shipbuilding. Cassie Jacobson, an Application Engineering Manager at 3M Company and Michael Hallock, an Application Engineering Specialist at 3M Company worked with Newport News Shipbuilding to design the study and provided product training and support.

The journal article includes the sample size, study duration, the methods employed as well as the statistical and data analysis of using these two different PPE configurations. This study demonstrated a statistically significant increase in welder productivity (as measured by weld wire applied), as well as positive welder assessments of comfort and improved weld quality, plus an opportunity to reduce the potential for eye injuries, when comparing the 3M Adflo PAPR integrated welding system versus using traditional, separate welding PPE components together.

Read the full study here and for help selecting appropriate welding personal protective equipment for your job site and applications, please do not hesitate to reach out to one of our safety specialists today.