CASE STUDY 4
A worker received a fatal electric shock while carrying out a.c. arc welding work on
a metal structure in a factory.
Cause of the accident
The welder used an alternating current (a.c.) arc welding set. Investigation
a. the welding electrode holder was not fully insulated;
b. the insulation on the handle of the welding electrode holder was damaged;
c. the voltage measured between the exposed metallic parts of the welding
electrode holder and the metal structure where the welding work was carried
out was 70 volts; and
d. there was no low voltage shock preventor incorporated in the welding set.
Results of studies given in the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)
Report Publication 479 showed that an adult person coming into contact with 70
volts a.c. would have a current of between 35 mA (milli-ampere) and 70 mA
passing through his body and he would be exposed to risk of ventricular fibrillation;
the higher the current, the higher the risk.
Exposed metallic part
How this accident could have been prevented?
• Direct current (d.c.) welding set should be used, as far as practicable, for all
welding works. D.C. welding set operates at 60 V d.c., which is far below the
safe (touch) voltage of 120 V d.c.
• Statistics show that the incorporation of a low voltage shock preventor in an
a.c. welding set does not totally eliminate the risk of electrical shock. The
main reason is that the reduction of open circuit secondary voltage of an arc
welding set to a safe level may take about 2 – 3 seconds. During this transition
period, any direct contact to the live electrode might still cause electric shock
• All welding sets and the associated tools and accessories should be properly
maintained and checked regularly to ensure that they are safe for use.
• When the use of a.c. welding set is inevitable for special welding work, the
following safety procedu