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Take precautions when cutting PVC-coated steel.

Hills B; Burt S; Moss CE
Welding J 1991 Feb; 70(2):55-56
The need for welder precautions during plasma arc cutting of PVC coated galvanized steel sheets was examined. Health effects of exposure to welding or cutting fumes included metal fume fever, eye and nose irritation, headache, irritability, coughing, and pulmonary edema. Fumes generated from a demonstration cutting process were collected for analysis. During the first 20 minutes, the operator cut only galvanized steel sheets and was monitored for metals. PVC coated sheets were then cut for less than 5 minutes and samples were collected for decomposition products. While little or no fume was visible during the cutting of the uncoated sheets, a large, spreading plume of smoke was visible upon the cutting of the PVC coated steel sheets. Ultraviolet radiation levels at the work site were below those allowable, but it was possible for workers to see the arc below the cutting table. The authors conclude that the cutting process is potentially hazardous to employees in the vicinity. Recommendations include: suspension of thermal cutting of PVC coated steel until local ventilation systems are improved, replacement of cardboard on the sheet cutting table with sheet metal to prevent fire, securing of excessive wires and cables around the welding area, no smoking, and shielding of the arc to prevent excessive luminance.
NIOSH-Author; Worker-health; Arc-welding; Arc-welders; Welding-equipment; Protective-measures; Occupational-exposure; Metal-fumes
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Journal Article
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Welding Journal
Page last reviewed: February 25, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division