It’s World Day for Safety and Health at Work on April 28, we take a look at why welding safety helmets are a critical piece of personal protective equipment.

Safety is a major concern for BOC both that of our customers and employees – and it’s an issue we’re working to improve daily. For welders a major part of safe working is choosing the right helmet. This guide should help welders know what they should be getting from their welding helmet.

Why you need one

The helmet helps protect welders’ eyes, face, neck and ears from arc radiation, sparks and spatter, heat, and metal ejected from the weld pool.

Without them, workers are at risk of serious eye injuries from the intense light, radiation and hot slag.

The best welding helmets are resistant to heat and fire, don’t conduct electricity, have very low thermal conductivity, and prevent radiation from the welding arc reaching the face and head. They are suitable for all open-arc welding processes allowing welders to have hands free while welding.

But it’s not just about getting any helmet – finding the right one is essential. Broken helmets might not provide the level of protection required and should be replaced. Repairs are only suitable if it’s the fittings or headband that need fixing.

The 3 main types of welding helmets

Welding helmets come in a variety of designs and shapes but can be broken down into 3 categories…

  1. Fixed oblong viewing window

These are the most basic. Glass filters are connected onto the inside of the helmet in a fixed oblong viewing window. Welders can’t see through the filter until an arc is struck, so the helmet is flipped up until work is ready to begin. The helmet is brought down with a nod of the head.

For an example of a helmet with a fixed window take a look at the Stephens Itex fibreglass hand shield 799 for welding professionals click here. 

  1. Flip-up viewing window

This type has two layers of protection – clear safety glass and a flip-up window with filter. This means welders can flip up the filter window to carry out simple non-welding operations. This also allows welders to have the helmet in place while setting up. You can also buy specific lenses for certain processes.

  1. Auto-darkening viewing window

Newest to the scene are light sensitive screens, which have clear filters that automatically darken when an arc is struck. This helps welders to accurately locate the weld. Once finished, the filter clears. These models are lightweight, ergonomically designed and often have a larger viewing window. An example of an auto-darkening helmet is BOC’s IHE550 Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet. 

To see an auto-darkening helmets in action, visit our YouTube page where you can see a short video explaining the features and benefits of the BOC IHE550 Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet. 

Top 3 things to consider…

  • Industry standards. Welding helmets should meet industry standards, such as EN 175, covering helmet coverage, weight, strength, and the helmet’s ability to protect face, eyes and neck. Helmets that meet standards will be marked with the manufacturer’s name, standard number, weight, and permitted uses if appropriate.
  • As standard practice, helmets should be kept clean inside and out, especially if being shared. To prevent damage, they shouldn’t be dropped or thrown.
  • What you’re using it for. The welding process being carried out will determine the type of helmet that is the most suitable – and the safest! For example, an auto darkening helmets prevents ‘arc eye’ even if the trigger doesn’t work you’ll still be a 100% protected.

Browse our online catalogue for our range of workplace safety equipment and products. Personal protective equipment is eligible for next day delivery.

Alan Morris

BOC Hardgoods Product Manager