Let’s say you’re already a welder OR just about to go for a job interview related to welding. How far you can go with style when you still want to do any? I had the same question.
Welders can have tattoos because they don’t pose any significant safety hazards. But it could be the reason why you get rejected in your first interview as a welder.
However, welders do need to be careful with piercings, and jewelry items like wedding rings or watches. You should ideally avoid wearing any of these since it can ground. Beards are also quite problematic because they interfere with traditional respirators, but PAPRs should work fine.
In this article, I will explain how far you can maintain your style while securing the job as well as safety.
Let’s get started.
Can tattoos hold you back in welding?
So, you got your cool new tattoo, OR want to add some change to your style and now starting to wonder ‘’Can welders have tattoos?’’.
Would it affect your career in any way?
Tattoos don’t pose an immediate safety hazard in welding, so yes, technically you can.
However, the issue seems to arise when you go for job interviews.
From what I hear from welders, generally, older interviewers in larger companies are more hesitant about hiring guys with tattoos.
You may know the reason already.
There’s a common belief that most people who have tattoos are either a criminal or has been in prison. I’m not saying having a tattoo makes you look like them. But you know what I mean.
Some interviewers still get that feeling when they see a tattoo in an interviewee. We can’t change how people think. We just have to adapt according to the situation.
Do not get a tattoo in your neck or hand. If you really want to have a tattoo just try to have it in your body where you can hide it.
Will tattoos directly prevent you from welding? No, but all things being equal, some employers may hire non-tattooed applicants over tattooed ones.
Some of you may be thinking of starting a career as a welder. If you’re wondering how difficult welding can get here’s a guide I created for you. It includes in-depth details about the welding jobs, safety issues, learning procedure and more…
Can welders have beards?
Does a beard look cool on your face? I bet it is.
No matter what others say, men look cooler if they have a healthy well-trimmed beard.
But you’re a welder or going to be one and you’re wondering ‘Can welders have beards at all?’.
Here’s the deal.
The main issue with facial hair in welding is that it can interfere with respirators. So, the answer is that it depends on the type of respirator you’re wearing.
Most of us know that joining the military means getting rid of all facial hair. Clean shaving isn’t there as a part of some arbitrary dress or grooming code. It exists because of valid technical reasons. Beards or facial hair interfere with the proper sealing of masks such as gas masks which are common in the military.
Welding is no different. Respiratory diseases like lung cancer and emphysema are prevalent among welders. One comment I read sums it up best- ‘’ Getting new lungs is a hell of a lot more expensive than a new beard’’. Beards express your style, but the consensus among welders is to always be safe than sorry.
Some smaller workshops can let you get away with some stubble or a mustache. On the other hand, more structured industrial environments won’t let you on the field without clean shaving. I’ve heard of places like shipyards that are extremely strict and expect no facial hair on welders.
A lot of those places require welders to do a fit test for their respirators before allowing them to work. These larger companies take safety precautions extremely seriously for fear of costly legal action against them.
Effects of having a beard on a welding respirator
Respirators are a key piece of safety equipment in welding because it prevents harsh fumes, minuscule metal dust particles and toxic gases like ozone. Different types do, however, allow some facial hair.
Even if you’re dealing with normal metals like stainless steel, you would still need a respirator. Some types of stainless steel, for example, release things like iron oxide, chromium and nickel dust. Iron oxide dust can lead to severe inflammatory conditions like siderosis. So, in situations like these, welders often wear a powerful air respirator.
Which respirators should you use with beards or facial hair
If you have a small amount of facial hair and you want to keep it that way, your best bet is a PAPR. PAPR stands for Powered Air Purifying Respirator. PAPRs comprise of a motorized fan blowing air to you, as well as a fine particulate filter. In other types of masks, manually breathing through a filter is difficult, but the PAPRs eliminate that issue.
With PAPRs, you are not subject to tedious ‘fit testing’ to ensure the respirator fits. With no fit-testing, you can get away with more facial hair such as goatees or mustaches. They also offer superior ventilatory protection, almost 5 times that of regular respirators.
However, PAPRs will cost a lot more than a regular N95 respirator. The choice is up to you. If welding is your daily profession and you love rocking facial hair, it would make good sense to invest in a PAPR. Like I mentioned earlier, you can always buy a respirator, but you can’t get a new pair of lungs.
Can welders have piercings?
Jewelry in welding is another tricky issue. Generally, when you’re working in risky mechanical environments, any type of jewelry is a no-no. But, as long as you keep some distance with the welding machines, the risk is very low.
Though the likelihood of any injury from the piercing is quite low in a welding environment, the risk still exists. However, hesitation around piercings is more to do with professional dress codes than safety hazards.
If your safety gear covers your piercings, then you should be quite safe. That said, quite a lot of employers frown upon people with piercings. Even though the risks are low, they still don’t want to take that chance. So, if you’re interviewing for a job that requires welding, walking in with 5 different piercings in your body may not be the best idea.
Common risks involved with welding and piercings
One of the biggest risks would be electrocution from things like high-frequency TIG welding. So, you ideally don’t want to have chest piercings, to protect your heart.
Some welding machines create strong electromagnetic fields which can create slight charges on your piercings. However, EM forces become significantly weaker with distance. So, as long as you’re not hovering over welding machines, the risk is quite low.
The bottom line on piercings on welding?
Don’t go overboard with the piercings and keep some distance between the machines and your piercings. Also, check a potential employer’s dress code before going to a job interview.
Wearing a ring when welding
Another cause for confusion revolves around whether it’s safe for welders to wear a wedding ring.
Can welders have rings at all? The answer doesn’t seem so clear cut.
I know quite a few welders who leave their wedding bands on while welding. However, I also recently saw a painful picture of someone’s scarred and torched finger. The image’s caption read ‘Reminder to never wear metal rings while welding’.
Generally, wearing metallic rings in a workshop is not a smart thing to do. There’s a possibility where it can get grounded. After all, leaving a ring in the locker is far more desirable than a missing finger.
Want more convincing? Look up ‘degloving injuries welding’. The pictures aren’t pretty!
Are there any rings you can wear for welding?
If want to wear a metal ring, choose a brittle material, like tungsten carbide. This way, in case of an emergency, the ring should be easy to fracture. You can also wear wooden or even silicone rings.
So, final thoughts :
You can wear rings and tattoos, piercings for welding but do so at your own risk. Some employers won’t even allow you to do so at all. As for beards, you can get away with some facial hair with PAPR respirators. When I say facial hair, I mean like goatees or chin straps, not Santa Claus beards!