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Safety Modifications for Welder

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A student using a wheelchair signed up to participate in an arc-welding class at a community college. Prior to the student's accident, his original career was as a Samoan fire dancer at a local hotel. His new vocational goal is to open up an auto body shop with his brother, so he has signed up for a welding class. Arc-welding produces a lot of hot sparks. Safety must be considered.


Welder welding in his wheelchair
Welder welding in his wheelchair

There are safety aprons available for arc-welding, but not for someone using a wheelchair. Unfortunately they don't make them big enough. Therefore, the College worked with DVR to design a fire resistant lap garment that would cover both the student's lap and the front part of the chair. A local vocational rehabilitation program called Island Skill Gathering, constructed the lap covering for them. The student will be able to take it with him when he completes the program and begins his actual work.

Another problem was that metal fragments or sparks can puncture wheelchair tires. As an accommodation, the student switched to tires with solid, tubeless inserts to protect them from the hazards of the shop floor.


Karen Kane, Counselor

Service to Students with Disabilities and Academic Challenges

Hawai'i Community College

200 West Kawili Street

Hilo, Hawaii 96720

Phone: 808-974-7741 (V/TTY)