Zero tolerance is being exercised by the Department of Labour towards companies that do not comply with the health and safety regulations stipulated in the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act. Wim Dessing, sales executive of Apex Strip Curtains and Doors, says this is particularly with regard to welding environments.

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“Welding and grinding are among the most notorious culprits for causing nasty accidents; not only in the immediate environment, but in the broader workplace by spreading noxious fumes and endangering the eyesight of those in the immediate vicinity,” explains Apex’s Wim Dessing.

Apex OHS safety Curtain

He says it is not always feasible to provide solid wall barriers to counter UV radiation and weld spatter, due to cost and practicality, particularly in confined spaces.

“Some manufacturers resort to makeshift protective structures, erecting wooden or metallic partitions or even hanging opaque canvas sheeting from the ceiling and crossbeams,” Dessing continues. “None of these measures complies with the OHS Act and all fall far short of total worker protection and safety.”

The answer lies in installing Apex Welding and Safety Screens, which protect workers from weld spatter and fumes, and from harmful UV radiation.

Manufactured from a specially formulated PVC material, the Apex Welding and Safety Screens come in various configurations to suit a variety of individual requirements. “The most popular version has a freestanding frame, allowing easy handling and portability,” Dessing says.

One of the most important design characteristics of the Apex Welding and Safety Screen is the patented Balledge® design on individual strips, which facilitates easy access for personnel and equipment to cordoned-off areas.

“The feet of the screen are angled to allow optimum utilisation of floor space,” Dessing adds. “And the screens can be butted together at a 900 angle.”

These features promote ease of erection, making it simple to set up and arrange the screens in different shapes according to the specific demands of each particular workshop.

The screens absorb, scatter and filter the light spectrum to create a safer working environment for the welder and any co-workers and supervisors in the immediate vicinity. Tested by the SABS for ultra-violet transmittance, conventional materials gave readings of 0.0005%, 0.008% and 5.0% as opposed to Apex readings of 0.005%, 0.001% and 0.005%. Tests for total visible light transmittance demonstrated incontestably that conventional materials permit 78% while Apex material allowed only 15.5% light transmittance – a dramatic difference, particularly when considering long-term exposure of workers and the consequent repercussions on their eyesight and skin.

“Apex Welding and Safety Screens have the added advantage of being impervious to burning,” Dessing says. “This is important because materials can easily come into contact with welding spatter.”

Dessing cautions, however, that the welding screens are not intended as a substitute for proper eye protection nor to permit direct viewing of welding arcs at close range.

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Crown Publications, one of South Africa’s largest business-to-business publishing houses, came into existence in 1986. Since then, the company has grown from producing a single magazine, Electricity SA (renamed Electricity+Control), to publishing six monthly magazines, three quarterlies, and a number of engineering handbooks.