Choosing the Right Welding Safety Equipment

Whether you are a welder or a safety manager, the need for eye and face protection is well known when it comes to welding. But other hazards – like welding fumes – are not so well known and can result in illnesses weeks, months or years later. We can assist you in identifying the proper welding safety gear to help keep you safe for your environment.

  • welding safety tip - identify hazards and assess risks
    1. Identify the hazards and assess the risks

    Make a list of all the risks in your welding environment (radiation, sparks, fumes, noise, trip hazards, falling objects, etc). 3M can help with hazard monitoring and measurement tools, such as air sampling equipment.

  • welding safety tip - select right welding safety equipment
    2. Select the right type of equipment

    Determine your protection based on relevant factors, such as the following:

    • Equipment type (e.g., eye, face, head, hearing)
    • The level of protection needed to work safely
    • Personal preferences - a key to user acceptance - covers issues including comfort, style, and ease of maintenance.
  • Training, motivation & maintenance
    3. Training, motivation & maintenance

  • I need to weld with greater clarity
    I need to weld with greater clarity

    Truer colors and contrasts with 3M™ Speedglas™ Natural Color Technology.

    See 9100XXi

    See 9002NC

  • I want to see around me
    I want to see around me

    We recommend our welding helmets with side windows that widen your field of vision when welding.

  • I need convenient head protection
    I need convenient head protection

    Speedglas has designed hard hat rails and loops to work with your 3M hard hat and Speedglas welding helmet.

  • I want to breathe fresh air
    I want mobile, filtered air

    As one of our most popular respirators, the 3M™ Adflo™ Powered Air Respirator is designed to provide welders a constant nominal airflow rate of 205 liters per minute.

    See PAPR systems

  • I do precise grinding
    I do precise grinding

    Check out our welding helmets with flip-up visors; they have a curved, clear protective visor underneath the welding filter.

    See 9100FX helmets

    See 9100MP helmets

    See FlexView

  • I like very lightweight welding helmets
    I like very lightweight welding helmets

    Great! Try our two lightest weight auto-darkening welding helmet and Speedglas 9002NC.

    See 9002NC

There is no one perfect helmet

Based on your needs,we have populated our helmet matrix with carefully considered design blends of protection, features, personal preferences, and performance to help provide quick informal suggestions for the applications needs of most welders. For every helmet system we design, we have four driving factors:

  • reliable welding safety helmet for harsh environment

    We know harsh welding environments. We build our products to thrive in them. We create reliable arc sensing/shade switching, select highly durable materials and design for long lasting mechanical operation.

    See just one one of our tests.

  • most comfortable welding helmet for eyes and face protection

    Comfort means a helmet that vents stagnant air. It means a headband that avoids scientifically determined pressure points around your head. And it means how a helmet provides eye and face protection while being comfortable for a full shift.

    See how to adjust for your comfort.

  • industrial welding helmet for metalworking and respiratory protection

    UV/IR radiation. High speed grinding particles. Small falling objects. Respirable particles. List your workplace hazards - then find the right Speedglas helmet, accessories, and respiratory protection.

    Are you aware of the hazards in Metalworking? Watch this short video to explore some of the common ones.

  • welding helmet design that helps maximize ability to see

    Every helmet design detail can affect your view. That’s why we provide high-performance auto-darkening welding filters, our side windows lenses, and large, protective clear visors. Each of these, and many more, helmet design elements help maximize your ability to see.

    Hear why Welder Gordie Blair likes the larger view.

Choosing a 3M™ Speeglas™ Welding Helmet

  • How much of your time consists of direct welding?
    When performing many non-welding tasks, you might like a helmet that combine a protective visor with a flip-up welding filter (9100FX, 9100MP helmets), especially when needing respiratory protection as you don’t need to remove your respiratory protection. When welding is your main task you might benefit from a helmet with external control to switch welding filter mode for different applications, for example grinding mode or your favorite settings when welding (helmets including 9100XXi filter kit).
  • When working in areas with overhead hazards you might benefit from a welding helmet with flexible head protection (QR – Quick Release). There are ear plugs available for most situations, however if there is a need of ear muffs you might need to consider a helmet that has a design that does not interfere when using ear muffs.

    As welding processes produce fume, respiratory protection may be needed. 3M offers disposable and reusable particulate respirators that fits with Speedglas welding helmets. However you might find that you need a powered or supplied air system and then you need a helmet with air duct. There are several models to choose from depending on what other needs you might have. Further details in section Welding Respiratory Protection.

  • For many welders, the ability to see more of their workpiece without moving their helmet or head is very important. For these big picture people, the 9100XX or 9100XXi models will be most appropriate.
  • Then our tack welding comfort mode may be for you. The comfort mode setting may help reduce eye fatigue caused by your eye constantly adjusting to differing light levels during tack welding. When the tack mode is activated, an intermediate light state (shade 5) is used. If another arc is not struck within two seconds, the welding filter switches back to its normal light state (shade 3). The tack welding comfort mode is available on 9100XX, 9100X and 9100V filters.
  • By just picking up a helmet with a 9100XXi or SL welding filter , you’ll automatically turn on your ADF.

    See all Welding Helmets

    Download 3M Selectíon Guide to Welding Safety! (PDF, 863 KB)

Auto-Darkening Filters

Recommended Shade Guide Table

Your decision tree when selecting welding filter

  • Would you benefit from seeing more natural colors and contrasts?
    The 3M™ Speedglas™ Auto-darkening Filters 9100XXi and 9002NC both allow you to more readily recognize colors. The light state is still shade 3, but the filter appears lighter, more detailed, and better able to view contours.
  • If yes, you have plenty of models to pick from: all our auto-darkening filters have variable (selectable) dark shades, as shown in the table.
  • This is a key decision factor. Using the table below, pick a model that does well in the processes you use frequently. You might want to also consider your needs for specific dark shade levels, light-to-dark switching sensitivity, and dark-to-light delay options which are features that vary from model to model.
  • For many welders, the ability to see more of their workpiece without moving their helmet or head is very important. For these “big picture” people, the 9100XX or 9100XXi models will be most appropriate.
  • Then our tack welding comfort mode may be for you. The comfort mode setting may help reduce eye fatigue caused by your eye constantly adjusting to differing light levels during tack welding. It's available on 9100XX, 9100X and 9100V filters.

Welding Respirator Protection

  • Respiratory effects from welding may take weeks, months or years to appear.

    Watch video about manganese and welding fumes above

  • All welding fumes contain particles and/or gas. The level of contaminants is determined by your welding method and materials, amperage and ventilation in your workplace.

  • The type of respirator you may need depends partly on what type of contaminants you are exposed to, your working environment, and the welding method and materials you use.

  • health effects of welding fumes-Manganese

    1. Health effects of welding fumes

    Manganese is a grey-white metal resembling iron. Manganese is used extensively to produce a variety of important alloys and to desulfurize and deoxidize steel. Manganese is also in many welding rods and filler metals to promote hardness. Manganese oxide fume is formed when manganese metal is heated and reacts with oxygen in the air such as occurs during welding.

    There have been recent changes by ACGIH to manganese occupational exposure limits (OEL) which may have an effect on various industries and industrial processes. One of the more recent ailments, identified by the National Institutes of Health, that can afflict welders is manganism, also known as welder's disease.

  • 2. Assess the Risk Levels

    All welding fumes contains particles and/or gas. The type of contaminants is partially determined by the material you are welding, how it is finished or cleaned and also by the type of welding electrode being used. Consult professional health expertise to identify the hazards levels against country safety standards. Occupational Exposure Limits (OELs) are given in each individual country’s national safety requirements. Your certified Industrial Hygienist can use 3M™ EVM Environmental Monitors to measure airborne contaminants in real-time, or 3M™ Organic Vapor Monitors to determine personal exposure levels.

    General Guide for Respiratory Protection
    Download the chart (PDF 46 KB) for a general outline to the type of 3M™ respirators that may be appropriate for your welding applications. The overview looks at the metals to be joined, welding processes, and ventilation conditions. It then lists the common types of respiratory protection that your Industrial Hygienist may recommend as determined by their hazard assessments.

    P = Particulate filtration via disposable respirator (N95), reusable respirator (P100), or 3M™ Adflo™ Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) with High Efficiency Particulate Filter (P100) installed.

    P + OV/AG = Particulate (P100) and Organic Vapor/Acid Gas (OV/AG) filtration via powered air respirator with both a 3M™ Adflo™ Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) High Efficiency Particulate Filter (P100) and 3M™ Adflo™ Cartridge, Organic Vapor/Acid Gas (OV/SD/CL/HC) installed.

    S = Supplied air regulator (SAR) and filtration unit.

  • 3. How to select the right respirator

    "Powered Air Purifying Respirators vs. Supplied Air Respirators vs. Reusable Respirators vs. Disposable Respirators

    The following is an overview of the four general types of 3M™ Welding Respirators. In addition to your application’s specific filtration requirements, your selection process may include various additional factors, such as equipment style/configuration, personal preference/comfort, and maintenance considerations. For example:

    1. Are you looking for welding respirators designed to help make breathing easier?
    2. Are you trying to keep your welders cooler and more comfortable, even in hot, humid conditions?
    3. Do you need respiratory systems that are designed to be integrated with eye, face, head and hearing protection options?
    4. Do you need to accommodate users with facial hair?"