Is It Illegal To Arc Weld In The Rain?

Is It Illegal To Arc Weld In The Rain?

At first you think, “It’s gotta be illegal. Electricity and water just don’t mix.” But then you think of all the stories you’ve heard from other welders, how they were stuck welding in ditches with mud and rain up to their torsos and lighting flashing all around. And you wonder, “Maybe it’s not.” Well if you’re not sure on the answer, you’re definitely not alone. In fact, some companies actually prohibit their welders from working in “inclement weather.” But do they have a legal obligation to do so?

Nope. According to OHSA standards, there aren’t any regulations that prohibit a worker from welding in wet weather. BUT here’s the thing, electrical currents and water don’t play nice. So while it’s not illegal, here’s some important things you need to take into account when dealing with moisture:

You Must Stay Dry

Rain isn’t the only water hazard for welders. Any type of moisture, including your own sweat, can pose a danger. Welding gear is specifically designed to negate the effects of electricity. But if your gear becomes wet, its protection is voided. For instance, your gloves are designed to protect the rest of your body from electrical currents. But let’s say you accidently drop them in a puddle. Even if you don’t stick your glove in your arc (which you shouldn’t do even with dry gloves) you’ll most likely feel a tingling in your hands just by holding your torch. If you did happen to accidently touch your arc or the electrode with wet gloves, you’ll be in for a world of hurt.
It’s also incredibly important that your boots stay dry. Welding boots are specifically designed with rubber to insulate you from the ground. But when wet, this protection can become entirely worthless. It probably doesn’t need to be said that standing in a puddle while welding is also a bad idea.

Should I Weld in The Rain?

While we’ve established it’s not illegal, that doesn’t mean it’s smart. Not only is welding in the rain dangerous for your own personal wellbeing, too much water can potentially damage your equipment. So if you’re not going to do it for yourself, do it for your equipment.

It’s Not Just Rain

As we mentioned, any type of moisture is the enemy, not just rain. Areas with high humidity can potentially cause problems if your safety gear becomes damp. Often welders also overlook their own sweating. If you’re the type of person who perspirates like a sumo in a sauna, you’ll need to pay attention to your body moisture level. In hot environments, sweat can dampen your gloves just as much as rain.

There’ll always be those situations when you’re trying to hit a deadline and it’s raining cats and dogs like animal control just had a jailbreak. And while it’s not illegal to weld in the rain, it really isn’t too smart. Just make sure when it comes to water, you’re using the old noggin. As long as you stay dry and use your common sense, you’ll have nothing to worry about. For other tips on how to keep you and your equipment safe, check out our post below on preventing burnback.