Poor conditions at new workplace involving welding fumes
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  1. #1
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    Poor conditions at new workplace involving welding fumes

    I started a job on Friday Nov 11 at a machine shop. I don't know exactly what it is they manufacture but the end product a bunch of solid pipes from what I've seen. Never been employed in this field of work before.

    I'm loving the job so far, it's tough but it's ideal for me. I don't have to interact with customers or really report to anyone, I just do my thing until the work day is over. The only glaring issue I have at the moment is the severe lack of safety measures in place. Don't get me wrong, virtually 100% of my work is automated one way or another, I just assemble bits and pieces of the final product and the machines do the rest. Sometimes loading the machines with pipes so they can be processed, and so on. The mechanical dangers are well out of the way for now and the only way I could **** up is if I purposely went out of my way to get in the way of the machines. Of course since I just started the owner does not want me doing anything too grandiose so it seems too easy/ideal for now. I will elaborate below.

    On my first day I came quite unprepared as I didn't know what to expect. No safety glasses, no earplugs nor work boots. Didn't bother the owner one bit and he didn't go out of his way to help me out. I finished the day without any protective wear. I don't expect to be babied at the job but at the very least I'd have thought this would concern the owner at least a little, with exception of the work boots as those cost a pretty penny and I wouldn't expect him to have any to spare. Today (Monday): I brought everything I lacked on Friday from home. The day started ok, then my second concern really came up. I spent the entire day at a robotic welder, and boy was there a lot of smoke. The issue was that the owner of the place didn't have any real measures in place to deal with the fumes nor had he advised me to bring anything. The only thing he had on site was a dust mask, specifically stating on the package that it was not rated for toxic fumes or gases. I wore it simply because it was better than nothing, but I could tell it was definitely not meant to be used in my scenario. THE WELDING IS A KEY PART OF THE PRODUCT MANUFACTURING PROCESS AND I EXPECT IT WILL PROBABLY BE USED EVERY DAY.

    Obviously I do not want repeated exposure to this stuff, especially for the entire work day. I should mention the owner is quite old, probably in his late 50s and I wouldn't be surprised if he is using me for cheap labor. He came off quite pleasant but from my experience that sort of warmness is quite common amongst employers who trap you in poor working conditions.

    Now the question: Should I keep this job and take my own initiative in observing safety measures in the conditions I'm presented, or is this just going to get worse and worse? I don't "need" need the money as I am still living with my parents. Mind you they don't buy anything for me, just the bare minimum of food and having a roof over my head which I am greatful for, but I do have to start earning for a few things I have in mind if I want to begin my process of moving out. My goal at the moment is to earn enough for a decent used car to increase my employability and go from there. It would make me sad to quit so early a field I am enjoying but either way, my priorities are always my health above all else.

    Quick recap

    PROS (subjective of course)
    No "helicopter" supervision (amazing)
    No contact with customers/public
    Only one co-worker who I get on with quite well
    Job isn't too physically demanding, some necessary lifting of course but it's a cakewalk compared to when I worked as a furniture mover.
    Relaxed environment

    CONS:
    Owner is aging and may be complacent in really adhering to proper working conditions in a factory type of environment.
    He might see me as a cheap and disposable source of labor.
    Expecting to be welding every day, or be in the presence of the byproducts a welding robot if someone else is operating it.
    Ventilation is in place but it does not seem too effective. There's a garage door in the back of the shop but it remained closed for the entire work day as the shop gradually filled up with smoke.

    MISC:
    I do not know what type of weld this robot uses, nor do I know the makeup of the metal items that are being welded together. my limited knowledge in this field has only taught me that there is MIG/TIG welding and that they operate at different heat specifications and frequencies.
    The company is quite small, just the owner of the shop and two employees including myself.

    Thank you if you've read all of this. I hope to find some wisdom out there from you guys.

    PS: In the meantime I will go to my local hardware store and purchase a respirator for tomorrow. I don't know which brands to look for really so I hope to pick a decent one at least. I'll be glad to hear any recommendations!
    Last edited by Grand dad; 11-14-2016 at 09:09 PM.

  2. #2
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    Re: Poor conditions at new workplace involving welding fumes

    Working union all my life, I never been in this situation. The employers always provided all safety equipment. If you’re not willing to ask the owner to provide the needed safety equipment. Then you’ll have to provided your own. Or quit!
    Don’t pay any attention to me
    I’m just a hobbyist!

    Carl

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  3. #3
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    Re: Poor conditions at new workplace involving welding fumes

    Open the door yourself.
    Find a fan to pull the smoke away from you.
    Get a 3M respirator with the pink cartridges.
    Speak up.

  4. #4
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    Re: Poor conditions at new workplace involving welding fumes

    Late 50s is "quite old". Dang whippersnappers these days!

  5. #5
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    Re: Poor conditions at new workplace involving welding fumes

    Quote Originally Posted by TimmyTIG View Post
    Late 50s is "quite old". Dang whippersnappers these days!
    I was thinking that too hahaha. I thought he was going to say around 90

  6. #6
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    Re: Poor conditions at new workplace involving welding fumes

    Have you talked to your coworker at all about this to see if any questions have raised before .Do you plan to do this long term or just till something better comes alone .A respirator wouldn't hurt.

  7. #7
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    Re: Poor conditions at new workplace involving welding fumes

    Not going to make a lot of friends with statements like that

  8. #8
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    Re: Poor conditions at new workplace involving welding fumes

    Quote Originally Posted by TimmyTIG View Post
    Late 50s is "quite old". Dang whippersnappers these days!
    Boy, ain't that the truth.

    Well I too worked UNION all my life and safety is the priority. I can see work shoes and gloves by employee but the employer should provide the rest. As for your welding and products used MSD sheets should be provided if requested. Sounds like he's really cutting corners on safety. Ask about fresh air intake and exhaust too. If there is that much smoke it is definitely a safety issue. It may not matter to the '' old guy '' owner but you should. Request the needed equipment from him at HIS COST and MSD sheets and see what he says. My guess is you'll be going home one way or another. IF he doesn't want to help then LEAVE NOW !!! You can even tell him you will be contacting the department of labor.

  9. #9
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    Re: Poor conditions at new workplace involving welding fumes

    Anyone can call OSHA anonymously and they would send a representative there. But they'd still probably know it was you. They can't fire you over it, but they still would know it was you.

  10. #10
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    Re: Poor conditions at new workplace involving welding fumes

    Union or not the employer needs to provide most of your safety equipment, the biggest exception to this would be steel toed shoes. They make boots the employees responsibility, because they can be worn/used away from work. Glasses, hard hat, ear protection, and gloves are the employers responsibility. To wear a respirator you need a lung function test and a fit test as per OSHA. If you like the job I would ask questions and then decide if you should stay or move on. Just my 2 cents.

    Mike

  11. #11
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    Re: Poor conditions at new workplace involving welding fumes

    Maybe bring it up with out demanding anything. Ask what the last guy did about all the smoke. Tell him joking you don't want to be blamed for everyone hacking up black crap all day.

  12. #12
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    Re: Poor conditions at new workplace involving welding fumes

    Quote Originally Posted by TimmyTIG View Post
    Late 50s is "quite old". Dang whippersnappers these days!
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBFA View Post
    I was thinking that too hahaha. I thought he was going to say around 90
    Ya got me haha. Well, I was just being generous He may be even older, I don't know.

    About the union/non union and speaking up. I didn't expect this today, the whole thing sort of caught me off guard. Tomorrow I am going to make sure my concern is heard. Also it can be quite intimidating when your boss is probably about 40 years older than you. Like I said this is a minuscule company, very few employees and no real upper management to speak of. I admit it is sort of my fault going into it blindly but thus far I have made no real investment into the company. If things go south I will leave with no hesitation and continue the job hunt.

    About the co-worker, I would not be mentioning the following unless it was absolutely relevant to my point. He is an Indian immigrant with evidently poor English skills.I think it's safe to say that India's poor attitude towards worker safety is generally known and to tell you the truth I don't think my co-worker cares enough either. He's great at his job, but unfortunately lacks any regard for health standards. It at least makes me very glad that you guys have employers who retain some common sense, and what you're all saying is in line with what my dad was telling me about the way the owner was treating his employees, including the bit which CEP, BD1 and leightrepairs brought up about the employer being responsible for supplying key equipment. We're not really on speaking terms for many years, my dad and I but at the very least he spoke some sense into me this time around. So to sum up, I will make heard the matters mentioned in this thread and see what comes of it. Thanks for your replies guys, awfully kind of so many of you to answer. Cheers!
    Last edited by Grand dad; 11-15-2016 at 12:12 AM.

  13. #13
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    Re: Poor conditions at new workplace involving welding fumes

    Update/edit: No dice on any additional safety measures. I told the owner that I was concerned over the constant exposure to welding fumes and he directed me to a ventilation switch. The piping itself It sits to the topleft of the machinery and from what I observed it does not do a very good job of drawing in the smoke as I clearly see it hanging overhead as it exits the area. Additionally I found out my co-worker has been at this company for 10 years and being a small business, this leads me to believe that things related to safe operations of equipment usually slide as there's no one to report it, and if they did, they'd be out of a job. I intend to stay until Friday when I am due to receive my pay, then notify the owner that I'll no longer be working for him. We'll see how it goes.

    Regarding MSDS, there's a folder with some documentation in the break room. I took a look at it today and found some information regarding welders but I cannot say if it was for one of the inactive MIG welders stocked up high on the shelves or if it was for the robotic welder apparatus. The documentation confirmed the gas hazards but strangely enough under the safety measures section, respirator was labeled not necessary. I wish I had more details on what the make was and the gas composition but I took too quick of a look to remember it all.

    2nd edit, I also found out what it is we're manufacturing. They are basement support beams. My job is to assemble the plate that attaches to the ceiling, the welding is done to the nuts and bolts on my end and my co-worker then welds the assembled plate to the beam itself. And here I include a glorious picture of my current duties: http://imgur.com/7MOckVQ
    Last edited by Grand dad; 11-15-2016 at 08:22 PM.

  14. #14
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    Re: Poor conditions at new workplace involving welding fumes

    grab some pictures and post them - somebody will probably know the machine - good move about getting out, however, you should still "drop a dime" to either OSHA or the local licensing agency - they can't fix a problem they don't know about - plus, maybe the "old guy" owner doesn't know what he's supposed to do.....

  15. #15
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    Re: Poor conditions at new workplace involving welding fumes

    Quote Originally Posted by Grand dad View Post
    Update/edit: No dice on any additional safety measures. I told the owner that I was concerned over the constant exposure to welding fumes and he directed me to a ventilation switch. The piping itself It sits to the topleft of the machinery and from what I observed it does not do a very good job of drawing in the smoke. Additionally I found out my co-worker has been at this company for 10 years and being a small business, this leads me to believe that things related to safe operations of equipment usually slide as there's no one to report it, and if they did, they'd be out of a job. I intend to stay until Friday when I am due to receive my pay, then notify the owner that I'll no longer be working for him. We'll see how it goes.

    Regarding MSDS, there's a folder with some documentation in the break room. I took a look at it today and found some information regarding welders but I cannot say if it was for one of the inactive MIG welders stocked up high on the shelves or if it was for the robotic welder apparatus. The documentation confirmed the gas hazards but strangely enough under the safety measures section, respirator was labeled not necessary. I wish I had more details on what the make was and the gas composition but I took too quick of a look to remember it all.

    2nd edit, I also found out what it is we're manufacturing. They are basement support beams. My job is to assemble the plate that attaches to the ceiling, the welding is done to the nuts and bolts on my end and my co-worker then welds the assembled plate to the beam itself. And here I include a glorious picture of my current duties: http://imgur.com/7MOckVQ
    If there's a fan, and they'll let you open the door you might consider staying. Those 2297 3m filters are great, and they cut out the smell of welding and cigarette smoke, but they're for exposure below the PEL (personal exposure limit). It's considered a comfort issue,depending on your viewpoint, so the "old" guy might not be super sympathetic. Those cartridges are 10 bucks, not too bad if you use them for 2 weeks, in my country the employer buys refills.
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  16. #16
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    Re: Poor conditions at new workplace involving welding fumes

    It's not exactly a fan, just a vent opening that sucks air/smoke. A considerable amount however just passes over leaving me and the rest of whoever is in the premises to deal with it. I am sure there are laws like that in my country as well regarding employer responsibility for equipment but this guy in particular carries no stocks of anything considerable except for earplugs... At the very least I will take this as a learning experience as I now understand far better the warning signs one can look for when seeking work in an industrial job environment. Thank you for the recommendation on the filters, I'll save that model number.

    Edit: Wait a minute, we're both in Canada, but oh so far apart. Greetings from Ontario.
    Last edited by Grand dad; 11-15-2016 at 08:42 PM.

  17. #17
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    Re: Poor conditions at new workplace involving welding fumes

    I started in construction at 17-years old. I have no idea how many contractors I’ve worked for in my life! I can’t think of one time that I ever ask for some safety equipment, that someone didn’t go to town right then, or the safety equipment wasn’t on site the next morning.
    Don’t pay any attention to me
    I’m just a hobbyist!

    Carl

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  18. #18
    Advan Guest

    Re: Poor conditions at new workplace involving welding fumes

    In Ontario (and almost everywhere else) employees and employers have very specific rights and duties. Here's a quick read for you...:


    https://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/faqs/rights.php

  19. #19
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    Re: Poor conditions at new workplace involving welding fumes

    He has to legally provide you with a respirator.

  20. #20
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    Re: Poor conditions at new workplace involving welding fumes

    Many companies that we worked at even provided safety glasses and even gloves for their employees and offered them to us too.

  21. #21
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    Re: Poor conditions at new workplace involving welding fumes

    Well I guess I've been had at. A sad affair that senior position holders would take advantage of young workers. Legal or not this misconduct unfortunately happened . Thanks for all the new comments since yesterday. CEP I was beginning to think that everyone in this thread was too fortunate to have good employers but it really turns out I simply got very unlucky and it gave me the wrong impression of the trades as a whole and It's encouraging to hear that situations like mine aren't happening en masse. Thanks everyone for giving me some clarity Here's a photograph of the actual machine in person. You can just barely make out the plates and bolts in the container to the left. http://imgur.com/a/3Eck5

    Correction for my second comment, instead of beam I meant to type "post". Oops
    Last edited by Grand dad; 11-15-2016 at 10:22 PM.

  22. #22
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    Re: Poor conditions at new workplace involving welding fumes

    Quote Originally Posted by CEP View Post
    I started in construction at 17-years old. I have no idea how many contractors I’ve worked for in my life! I can’t think of one time that I ever ask for some safety equipment, that someone didn’t go to town right then, or the safety equipment wasn’t on site the next morning.
    People bad mouth unions but that's some of the perks, a history of sticking together for better conditions you'll never get rich and most work for their money 30 yrs in my trade myself(U.A.) almost always treated good if I wasn't I walked away, you gotta make your own conditions nobody else will.

  23. #23
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    Re: Poor conditions at new workplace involving welding fumes

    Quote Originally Posted by pat h View Post
    almost always treated good if I wasn't I walked away, you gotta make your own conditions nobody else will.
    So very true pat h! Back in my independent days, I quit 13-contractors one year. 3-in one week. 99 times out of 100 I got another job on the way home.
    Don’t pay any attention to me
    I’m just a hobbyist!

    Carl

    Dynasty 300
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  24. #24
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    Re: Poor conditions at new workplace involving welding fumes

    Sounds like we're related 12 in 1 year myself one for about 10 months, 1 I dragged up at break walked across alley and went to work for another outfit. You gotta learn when you're bull**** meter will get pegged before it does

  25. #25
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    Re: Poor conditions at new workplace involving welding fumes

    Quote Originally Posted by CEP View Post
    So very true pat h! Back in my independent days, I quit 13-contractors one year. 3-in one week. 99 times out of 100 I got another job on the way home.
    Wow, what a time huh. Okay so these things do happen, but you ain't having it! Words of wisdom pat h (or what should've been common sense to me). Glad I don't plan to linger any longer than I otherwise might have.

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