Plasma Cutter Safety – Plasma Cutting Is As Safe As Welding – With A Few Exceptions

Attention Plasma Cutters! General Welding Safety is not enough.

There are a few things about plasma cutting safety that are different from general welding safety tips

This short list of plasma cutter safety tips is geared toward light duty plasma cutting using compressed air not large industrial units that use gas mixtures and water cutting tables.

Electric Shock Can Kill

– Operating a plasma cutter completes an electric circuit between the torch and the workpiece. The workpiece and anything touching the workpiece are part of the electrical circuit.

– Never touch the torch body, workpiece or the water in a water table when the plasma system is operating.

Voltages & Currents

– Plasma cutter output voltages are much greater than welding voltages, usually 100-200 volts.

Precautionary Measures

– Do not pick up the workpiece, including the waste cutoff, while you cut. Leave the workpiece in place on the workbench with the work cable attached during the cutting process.

– During plasma cutting operations do not move the work clamp.

Wear insulated gloves and boots, and keep your body and clothing dry.

– Do not stand, sit or lie on or otherwise touch any wet surface when using the plasma cutter system.

– Insulate yourself from work and ground using dry insulating mats or covers big enough to prevent any physical contact with the work or ground. If you must work in or near a damp area, use extreme caution.

Work Cable

– Ensure metal-to-metal contact between work cable and workpiece or work table.

– Work cable clamp should make contact with clean metal free of rust, dirt, painted surfaces, etc.

– Do not attach work cable to the piece that will fall away when the cut is complete

Plasma cutter Arc Rays

Plasma cutter arc rays produce intense visible and invisible (ultraviolet and infrared) rays that can burn eyes and skin.

Protective Clothing

– Guantlet gloves, safety shoes and hat.

– Flame-retardant clothing to cover all exposed areas.

– Cuffless trousers to prevent entry of sparks and slag.

– Remove combustibles, such as a butane lighter or matches, from your pockets before cutting.

Noise Levels of Plasma Arc Cutting

– Plasma arc cutting systems can generate noise levels in excess of 120 dB during high-amperage cutting operations.

– Ear protection should be used when operating or working near plasma arc cutting operations.

Toxic Fumes & Gases

Plasma arc cutting can produce toxic fumes and gases that deplete oxygen and cause serious injury.

– Keep the cutting area well ventilated or use an approved air-supplied respirator.

– Do not cut in locations near degreasing, cleaning or spraying operations. The vapors from certain chlorinated solvents decompose to form phosgene gas when exposed to ultraviolet radiation.

Pacemakers & Hearing Aids

– Pacemaker and hearing aid operation can be affected by magnetic fields from high currents. Pacemaker and hearing aid wearers should consult a doctor before going near any plasma arc cutting and gouging operations

Overall Plasma Safety

– The plasma arc cutting process can be very safe.

– By paying attention to safety standards and correctly setting up and operating the system, plasma arc cutting poses no more a threat than most welding processes.