The Risks Associated with Underwater Welding – Major Things to Keep in Mind

What Is Underwater Welding

As the name suggests, underwater welding, requires the welder to be immersed in water. The activity involves certain risks owing to the increased amount of pressure in the surrounding. One needs to be trained and skilled to absolve these risks.  The training is usually given in the diving academies. It is also called wet welding. There are two methods for underwater welding, the wet method and the dry or hyperbaric method. A number of technicalities for each method has to be kept in mind while performing it.


The risks in underwater welding mainly arise from the lack of information and practice to face certain unpredictable situations, probable as they are numerous times. An inability to face these challenges can cause incidents of drowning. Underwater explosions can occur, the reason being the production of large quantities of oxygen and hydrogen. These gases combine to form gas pockets that naturally have an explosive formula. Often one can fall in a fix when his oxygen tanks start releasing gas and end up empty.  Decompression maladies can befall. As a result of working for hours in regions that are more than hundred feet below water, the pressure that falls on the human body is gigantic.  The sickness attacks when the welder swims too rapidly to the surface and in that process, deeply inhales gases that are dissolved in the water. If the gases enter the bloodstream, one can feel pain and exhaustion in lungs and other parts. One can also suffer from cold temperature conditions.

As water is weak in resisting electricity, electric shocks pose frequent threats. The shocks can critically injure the welder. This threat is more common to wet welding, as opposed to dry welding methods like plasma cutting and TIG welding. The threat is amplified as the welders are surrounded completely by an electricity-non-resistant substance. Welders working in ‘splash zones’ or areas sporadically covered with water, are exposed to a greater risk of electric shocks. The shocks are generated when the welding machine, with all its components, has not been properly developed, to function underwater or maybe the electrodes have not been waterproofed enough. Sharks and other predatory creatures are also on the prowl, adding to the list of risk factors. A damaged suit or welding helmet can be a further addition.

The dental amalgam can get destroyed leaving an uncomfortable, metallic taste in the mouth. This has been explained as being caused by the magnetic field of alternating currents, created due to electric welding activities. From this magnetic field, evolves another current that affects the dental structures. Working for hours underwater has been found to be detrimental to hearing faculties. Other sense organs can become weak too. Body parts, like ears, nose, fingers can be harmed due to the constant pressure. The musculoskeleton system can be negatively affected and that can reveal in symptoms of joint pains, back aches, neck and back rigidity.


Of course, a number of precautionary measures are present to prevent risks. However, they do not nullify risks. They lessen the chances of falling prey to risks. Some of the precautions include, testing the welding machine carefully and over and over again, insulating the cables with perfection, using a wooden plane for transferring power, working from the topmost and bottom most points, avoiding muddy planes that already contain methane. Despite the risks, people with passion, take up underwater welding as their careers. They train themselves rigorously for taking up underwater welding as a profession.

  • December 18, 2016
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