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What risks do underwater welders face?

Underwater welders earn top salaries due in large part to the enormous risks they face carrying out their tasks. Whether they work from oil rigs, ships or on pipelines, their work can take them out to sea for weeks or even months at a time.

In addition to being far away from friends and family for long stretches, they face dangers that most people in other professions will never encounter. They include:

  • Drowning: It should come as no surprise that any work that is done underwater carries great risk. All it takes is a breach in the diver’s mask or hose or a faulty oxygen tank to cause the death of the diver.
  • Threat of explosions: Oxygen and hydrogen combine to a volatile mix of gases that can ignite and cause deadly explosions. Wet welders must be aware of the little “pops” they hear which mean that the bubbles of oxygen and hydrogen are building up.
  • Electrocution. While underwater welding equipment undergoes modifications to work beneath the water’s surface, if the insulation has deteriorated, the waterproofing may be insufficient to protect the welder. Fresh water can destabilize the arc even more than saltwater can and presents an even higher risk of electrocution.
  • Decompression sickness. The condition is often referred to as “the bends” and is caused by divers ascending to the surface too quickly. As they swim upward, bubbles of nitrogen in their blood can cause complications and even death.

If you suffer injuries while working as an underwater welder, you need to understand the rights you have under the law to seek financial compensation for the injuries, any damages and other losses.