Underwater Welding Dangers

Underwater welding is part of the many responsibilities commercial divers perform. It requires using special tools and equipment to repair and maintain structure that are underwater, sometimes up to 1,000 feet underwater.

The job can be dangerous at times, but with the proper training, education and certification, the job is rewarding to the many of these professionals. To protect themselves from potential dangers and ensure all divers return to the surface safely, they almost always work as a team no matter how small the underwater welding project is.

underwater-welding-diving1Underwater welders are required to obtain at least a specialized diving training. Vocational training in welding is also helpful. To ensure they these professionals understand the strict procedures for underwater welding, they often work as a helper or apprentice for a few years.

Generally helpers work above water and monitor diving equipment, oxygen supplies and ensure divers are safe. After understanding the safety required, how to properly handle equipment and how each underwater weld is done, they start diving with experienced underwater welders.

Of course there’s always underwater welding dangers. Water can be murky and divers must know where there equipment is to use the right tools for the weld. This requires wearing a belt similar to those of construction workers, which is prepared before each dive, and knowing each tool by touch rather than sight.

To avoid potential dangers, divers stay in constant contact with each other and the land crew monitoring the dive. Safety always takes precedence over completing the job quickly. Not only do they weld in murky waters, waters may be a maze of structures such as steel beams. So although there are dangers, many precautions are taken to ensure no one gets hurt. The U.S. Coast Guard and OSHA have extensive guidelines not only for commercial divers, but recreational divers as well.

Underwater welding dangers are about as dangerous as any construction job. Injuries and death are often a result of faulty equipment or carelessness. Employers of underwater welders take safety very seriously, which is why underwater welders don’t actually do the work until they’re fully trained and ready for the job.

Employers even take the extent of looking for specific personal attributes such as team work and attention to detail before allowing any employee to perform their first dive with the underwater welding team. If you have these characteristics, obtaining training in welding and diving certification could make this a good career choice.

A Day in the Life of an Underwater Welder

As the title of this occupation discloses, an underwater welder is one who fuses together metal or machinery welding equipment while submerged in water. Actually an underwater welder is trained for the challenges involved in welding above and below water levels.

Sometimes an underwater welder starts as an underwater diver who has brought his avocation skills to the job world. Others are experienced welders looking for a more challenging environment to perform their vocational skills. Whichever way a person becomes an underwater welder, combining diving with the skilled trade of welding is a great way to earn a living.

First Comes Training

commercial divingAn underwater welder must have certification for diving and welding. These certifications are available through commercial and vocational training courses. Continuing education is vital to the novice as well as the experienced to broaden their horizons and prepare them for the varied aspects of underwater welding chores. Guidance for a career in underwater welding can be gleamed from the Underwater Welding Society, Bureau of Labor Statistics and welding schools specializing in underwater welding.

An underwater welder is also known as a hyperbaric welder because of the incidence of performing their duties in high pressure environments while underwater. An underwater welder usually works completely submerged under the surface of water. Some jobs require submergence at various ranges utilizing small hand and powered tools to sophisticated welding equipment.

Many Skills Are Needed To Be An Underwater Welder

Every job requires many other skills in the preparation and execution of each assignment including photography, map making and reading, research, documentation and the handling of explosive materials. An underwater welder may have to test equipment, conduct experiments, haul and use heavy tools such as sledgehammers and pry bars, handle hazardous materials, plus be at ease and safe with sea creatures and plants in their work environment.

As an underwater welder, the workplace is expanded to the two-thirds portion of the world-canals to rivers, ponds to oceans and portside to poolside environments. Underwater welders are involved in the salvage of shipwrecked vessels, maintenance of oil rigs and shoreline properties, as well as preparing for new construction projects. Underwater welders are trained to ply their skills with snorkel, scuba wetsuit and deep sea gear and with gas or electric-powered welding equipment. The workplace varies from project to project, determined by the locale and depth of the project and the environs of the workplace.

Projects are in or around submerged structures and may need to be completed in less than perfect weather or current conditions with limited visibility and under strict time constraints. It is comforting to know the standard operating condition for most environs usually exceed OSHA regulations for underwater diving and welding. Three-man dive crews are the norm and not the exception in the work environs to meet the standards of the Association of Diving Contractors.

Though the conditions surrounding an underwater welder are hazardous, the equipment, gear, and work standards are of the highest quality to lessen the hazards and improve the outcome of projects. Projects requiring the work of an underwater welder may be slated to last for hours to days to months and years. Though the concentration is the time spent underwater, the bulk of the time and effort in the task at hand is involved in training and preparation, insuring the safety of the project and its participants.