The Dangers of Underwater Welding

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You may have welded for several projects above water, but underwater welding is an exciting but dangerous career that some chose to pursue. As it is a dangerous profession, salaries are high and there are many opportunities to advance in the career.

Different positions for underwater welders include construction, repairs and surveying. Oftentimes, these workers are performing repairs on oil rigs, pipelines, dams, bridges and vessels.  Before taking the leap to become an underwater welder, know the risks and the potential injuries that could occur. Keep reading to learn how dangerous underwater welding is.

Underwater Welding Risks 

1. Electric Shock

This is one of the many dangerous aspects of this job as water and electricity do not mix. If the welding tools are not water-equipped, then you are risking electrocution. Make sure that your tools are insulated and have a waterproof electrode. Keep in mind that in fresh water, the arc from the welder tends to be more unstable. You will need to be experienced enough to know how to handle the welder in these situations. 

2. Explosion

If hydrogen and oxygen are mixed together, there is the potential for an explosion, if ignited. While welding, if you detect any popping noises, this could indicate that these pockets of hydrogen and oxygen are forming. If so, stop welding immediately.

3. Decompression Sickness

This sickness occurs when the diver goes too quickly from higher to lower pressure zones. When this happens, nitrogen bubbles enter into the person’s bloodstream which can cause minor health issues such as joint pain and rashes, to more severe issues such as paralysis or even death. 

4. Drowning

Any time that an individual enters into the water, there is always a risk of drowning, even if that person is a well-trained diver. Many times, when a diver drowns it is due to a malfunction in his or her equipment. Make sure to check your equipment before diving, and also be sure to have a full tank of oxygen. 

5. Hypothermia

The deeper one goes into the water, the colder the temperature becomes. If you are diving, you must wear a sufficiently insulated wetsuit to protect yourself from the cold. If you expose yourself too long to intense cold temperatures you could experience hypothermia.

6. Hearing Impairment

Any prolonged time spent under high pressure can result in damage to your hearing. The damage could be temporary or permanent. In addition to hearing loss, it can also contribute to damaged ears and lungs. 

Also Read: How Bad is Welding for the Eyes?

7. Marine Life

When working underwater, you will obviously need a source of light in order to see what you are working on. The light can attract other sea life to you, such as plankton. In turn, the plankton can attract larger sea creatures to you as they are in search of food. This can cause a distraction in your work as they get in the way, or it could become a potentially dangerous situation depending on the type of sea creatures that come your way. 

Is Underwater Welding Worth It? 

Cost Of Training

The cost of training to become an underwater welder can be potentially high ranging between $5000 to $20,000. In most cases, you are required to bring your own diving and underwater welding equipment to class, which is also quite expensive. Be sure to research what certifications are offered as well as what costs are included with tuition.  

Job Flexibility

With this career, there is the potential for flexibility in the job. You may choose to work either in commercial underwater welding or offshore. If you choose to work offshore you may have a less flexible schedule, however, and you could be away from family more than you would prefer. 

Age and Skill

It is a myth that only younger individuals should be underwater welding. While it is a job that can take a toll on your body, this job is for anyone who is interested. Knowing that it is an active job, you will need to prepare your body for the harsh conditions of the job. It should not stop experienced welders looking for a new avenue to try. 

Being Prepared

As mentioned above, underwater welding is a career path for anyone interested in taking it on. However, before you begin in this new endeavor, you will need to prepare yourself. This means that you will need the proper training for working with the equipment and conditions. You will also learn about safety procedures. You will need to train your body in preparation for the physical demands of the job and engage in workouts. In fact, you may be required that you are certified as “fit for duty” before you can begin work. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the life expectancy of an underwater welder?

With the many risks included in this job, it is not surprising that there is a lower life expectancy rate. At this time, the current life expectancy is between ages 35-40. 

Does welding shorten your life?

Welding can shorten your life if precautions are not taken. Wearing personal protective equipment can help protect your body from harm, such as wearing a respirator. Prolonged exposure to fumes produced from welding can lead to a weakened immune system, certain cancers and other illnesses. Damage to your hearing is also possible as are many other injuries due to the heavy equipment and environment of the job.  

Is Underwater Welding the most dangerous job?

With all of the risks involved, underwater welding is one of the most dangerous jobs. These workers face several health risks, some severe. There is also a higher chance of death due to accidents involving faulty equipment or due to the environment.

Underwater welding is not for the faint of heart. It is dangerous and can cause great damage to the body, even lessening your life expectancy. However, this job is exciting and can lead to growth in your career as well as your salary.


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