On June 26, 2015, the Open House 2015 event at voestalpine Böhler Welding came to an end after five days with an exhibition, expert lectures and the exchange of specialist opinions. Certainly a reason to make an assessment and to inform you about the GSI lectures at this juncture. In total, over ten different speakers delivered expert lectures on the subjects of joining welding, maintenance and cladding as well as brazing/soldering - and more than 1,000 guests took up the invitation to the Open House 2015 every day.
Modern welder training - Basis for fitness in production
During the series of lectures, the speakers from GSI explained their perspectives of the term of modern welder training. In their lecture entitled "Modern welder training - Basis for fitness in production", Wolfgang Hildebrand-Peters, Director of the BZ Rhein-Ruhr branch, and Dipl. Ing. Holger Rautert, Course Supervisor at BZ Rhein-Ruhr, established that the abilities / performance capacities of welders are mutually dependent on the welder's fitness / state of health. "Only the employee who is physically fit for his work in question can exploit his productivity to the full and input his abilities into the weld," according to Rautert during his lecture.
Cooperation with the Sport University Cologne and the University Giessen
They are arguing in favour of training which also includes the imparting of health-preserving working postures during the welding process in restricted working positions (forced postures) and, amongst other advice, provides tips for short relaxation exercises. Only in this way is it possible to avoid long-term physical harm when working in forced postures and to reduce illness-induced losses of working hours, said Hildebrand-Peters. With the aid of the German Sport University Cologne and the Justus Liebig University Giessen, the muscle regions subjected to strains were localised as the result of series of experiments. This is leading to the elaboration of posture recommendations and compensation exercises which are being incorporated into the GSI training of welders.
Health prophylaxis - There is a need for action
The illness-induced absence of welders and flame cutters amounts to 13.3 days/year. A characteristic figure which is above the average in the metal industry (11.7 days/year).
According to the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 25 % of the absences from work are caused by restricted working positions. In the case of employees over 55 years of age, the value is 35 %. "Here, there is a need for action," stated Hildebrand-Peters. "For a lot of other occupations, illness prevention and posture recommendations are already customary in Germany today and work is no longer conceivable without them."
Darkness of the welder's booth
It is actually surprising that, in the welder's occupational group, it is not yet customary to recommend prophylactic measures with regard to the prevention of posture harm during the working process. However, there are reasons for that too!
When practising the welding process, attention focuses on the arc, the weld pool and the subsequent evaluation of the weld result. In order to be able to evaluate these first two parameters, trainers wear, as eye protection, welders' helmets which have darkened protective glasses and thus mean that it is no longer possible to assess and correct the posture of the welder, so to speak, in the welder's booth.
Solution: Virtual Welding Training Systems (VWTS)
Today, welding technology trainees at the Bildungszentren Rhein-Ruhr branch of GSI are already using virtual welding training systems not only for well-founded training with regard to their manual skills and fundamental theoretical knowledge but also for sensitisation to questions relating to prophylactic health protection. VWTS are computer-controlled training programs which can represent a virtual welding process including the representation of the arc, the weld pool etc. In early exercises in order to impart the manual skills, exercise units are carried out on the VWTS and postures which not only serve prophylactic health protection but also lead to an improved weld result are trained.
We thank voestalpine Böhler Welding for the invitation to the Open House 2015 and for the possibility of making this subject accessible to a wider public. We also thank the listeners for their interest, feedback and important questions on the subject.
Contact: Vincenzo Coda