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Inside Look: What Does a Welder Do?

A Day in the Life of a Shipyard Welder

John is a qualified seven-year welder. He’s often asked, “What does a welder do?” Good question. His day begins at 5:30a.m. The routine includes a quick shower, assembling lunch, popping down aspirin for back pain, and heading out. As he’s driving, he looks in the mirror at the burn next to his eye. “This is what happens when I get too close to the arc,” he thinks to himself.

Shipyard Welding

Shipyards are loud and dangerous – no place for amateurs. Squealing metal, flying sparks and hot metal drops fill the job site where the massive ship is. He has his meeting with the boss to go over the agenda and read blueprints. The day consists of sophisticated grinding and metal cuttings.

Proper Welding Gear Setup

John straps on his safety gear, which takes 30 minutes. He puts the respirator snap tightly around his face. Next, he pulls the safety boots on followed by thick gloves, protective glasses, and the visor. Body protection is the most important safety step, as he has seen co-workers sustain injuries that could have been avoided: welder’s flash, hearing loss, and inhaling toxic fumes.

Next, he inspects and sets up his equipment. He’s applying a 480-degree Celsius flame to thick, impenetrable metal. If he misses a step in the setup, it can lead to electrocution or burns. He also checks all cables for leaks and welding leads for nicks or frays. Everything looks good, so he assembles the equipment, and is ready to go.

Welding Condition on a Ship

Working on a ship is not easy. Deafening noise, toxic fumes, and enclosed spaces fill the ship that John has to crawl through with equipment. After welding for two hours, John needs a fifteen-minute break. If he doesn’t take one, his muscles can become too stiff, thus, affecting his work. Back cramps, shoulder, neck, and leg pain are common issues caused by bad posture. However, it is hard to maintain good posture when working inside a ship’s hull.

John must stay alert and in proper position at all times to avoid any mistakes. If he uses the wrong angle with the flame, the weld won’t penetrate. If air gets into the shielding gas, the metal can bubble up. The heating temperature must be spot on to avoid a broken weld. A 30,000-ton sea vessel cannot afford to have any defects. Finally, John completes his task on girder fifty feet up. Thanks to his safety harness, he is able to complete his job safely. His work for the day is done. He leaves feeling good, having successfully completed the day’s work safely. He smiles, because he knows he is providing for his family.

Do you want to work as a welder like John? By enrolling in one of our welding training programs at ACI, you will be on the fast track to starting a new welding career.