Defining the ‘right’ helmet and welding shield combination

3 considerations to guide your PPE selection

by MSA – The Safety Company

Sparks, spatter, flying debris, ultra-violet light. The risk of eye injury from welding is real. In fact, research suggests that one-quarter of all welding injuries are eye related, which is why personal protective equipment (PPE) is so important. For those using head protection with welding shields, the selection of the right PPE is even more critical. With a multitude of products available, the question becomes: How do you know which helmet and welding shield combination is right?

Below are three considerations when selecting a helmet/welding shield system for your operations:

1. Be careful of mix-and-match gear.

DIY helmet-shield combos are a not the best idea. Not only are they more susceptible to failure, putting the weld operator at risk of permanent eye and/or face injury, they go against OSHA regulations and ANSI standards and create compliance issues. In fact, attaching anything to a helmet requires impact, coverage and other testing, as well as approval by the original manufacturer.

But now there’s a new product offering that promotes compliance. Created in collaboration with two leading PPE manufacturers within their respected fields, MSA/Miller Welding Shields and Adapters are a complete system, certified to ANSI Z87.1-2015 and compliant to CSA Z94.3-2015.

2. Consider fit and comfort.

Welding sometimes is a difficult, uncomfortable job, but properly fitting PPE can significantly improve weld operator comfort and protection. Since welding shields vary greatly, be sure to seek out styles that provide an ergonomic, secure fit to optimize comfort. As weld operators look to pair welding shields with helmets, this becomes even more important due to the total weight of the paired configuration.

Listed below are some features to look for in a welding shield.

  • Lightweight
  • Balanced
  • Multiple operating modes with outdoor welding capabilities, if applicable
  • Seamless hard hat integration

3. Always consult the welder.

Getting input from weld operators about their PPE not only ensures that the best options are selected, but also enhances protection and acceptance. As users are integrated into the PPE decision-making process, they’re more likely to properly use selected products and act as advocates to others⎯which, in turn, amplifies overall compliance.

As MSA/Miller set out to define the best helmet/welding shield offering, they spent countless hours with hundreds of weld operators to understand their needs, environment and typical workday. This insight has led to a new offering, featuring the weight, balance and comfort weld operators demand.

Be sure to do the same in selecting PPE for your welding operations. Talk to the actual weld operators who use the products, asking them to test your PPE options. And, of course, consider their honest feedback when making your final selection.

Here are some questions you may wish to ask your weld operators:

  • How many hours a day do you intend to wear the helmet and shield?
  • How would you categorize your fatigue factor?
  • Do you stop and start frequently on the job?
  • Do you prefer a slotted or non-slotted helmet?
  • Do you need electronic or non-electronic darkening capabilities?

When it comes to selecting a helmet and welding shield, a well-designed, compliant system is of the utmost importance. But because all jobs are not alike, it’s imperative to consider your application and your weld operators. Best-of-class, ANSI-approved protective helmets and shields, combined with smart occupational safety practices, ultimately provide the best protection of all.

MSA – The Safety Company

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