NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Shipyard confined space welding intervention.

Wurzelbacher S; Hudock S; Johnston O; Shulman S; Lowe B
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 20-25, 2000, Orlando, Florida. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2000 May; :61
Shipyard welders, especially those working in confined spaces, have not been adequately studied as an occupational group in terms of ergonomic factors affecting worker health, safety, and performance. These workers can weld under conditions that provide inadequate ventilation and require static muscular work and awkward postures. This study measured the effect of the welding process and ventilation method used in a confined workplace on physical workload, weld fume exposure, and weld performance. Nine male welders from the participating shipyard performed four wire-fed welding tasks and four stick-welding tasks in a functional mockup, constructed by NIOSH, to match actual dimensions of the double-hull honeycomb (0.6 m x 0.6 m x 4.9 m). During these tasks, the ventilation method was alternated between a standard air horn and a prototype fresh air diffuser. Heart rate, electromyographic (EMG) activity, ratings of perceived exertion (RPE), discomfort assessment surveys (DAS), total personal particulate concentrations, and area elemental concentrations were recorded for each task. In addition, welding performance in terms of weld quality and efficiency were determined for each task. Statistical analysis indicated that weld process had a significant effect on workload and weld performance. Wire welding was associated with higher RPEs (p = 0.0001), general DAS outcome (p = 0.0076), and weld efficiency (p = 0.0335), while stick welding was associated with higher weld quality (p = 0.0001). EMG analyses showed that stick welding was associated with greater localized muscle fatigue than wire welding. The standard air horn ventilation method was associated with lower total particulate concentrations (p = 0.0282). This study suggested that engineering interventions for confined space welders involving weld process and ventilation method changes should be considered carefully due to potential impact on workload, weld fume exposure, and weld performance.
Shipyard-industry; Shipyard-workers; Shipyards; Welders; Welding; Welding-equipment; Confined-spaces; Ergonomics; Human-factors-engineering; Muscle-tension; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Posture; Task-performance; Ventilation; Physiological-effects; Work-analysis; Fumes; Metal-fumes; Heart-rate; Electrocardiography; Particulates; Ventilation-systems; Engineering; Control-technology
Publication Date
Document Type
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Source Name
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 20-25, 2000, Orlando, Florida
Page last reviewed: March 25, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division