20 February 2019
This week, the HSE have issued new expectations for how companies handle exposure to welding fume after scientific studies show a link between exposure to welding fumes and certain cancers. The worrying evidence outlines that exposure to all welding fume, including mild steel welding fume can cause lung cancer, as well as limited evidence of a link between welding fume and kidney cancer. In addition, mild welding fume also causes exposure to manganese, which can lead to neurologic effects similar to Parkinsons disease.
This news has led to a safety alert being issued by the HSE and updated enforcement expectations, with immediate effect. As part of the expectations, the HSE have stated that they will no longer accept any welding undertaken, regardless of duration, without suitable control measures in place as there is no known safe level of exposure to welding fume.
The outcome of these new expectations is that companies with fabrication processes will need to urgently review their working practices and immediately put in place controls to ensure that the new expectations are met. The expectations outline that general ventilation is no longer adequate and does not achieve the necessary controls.
Actions required include ensuring that exposure to welding fume is adequately controlled using LEV (Local Exhaust Ventilation). Where this is not adequate, welders will need to wear suitable RPE (Respiratory Welding Equipment). Outside welding will now require RPE also.
In addition, Health and Safety officers should look at the general environment and protect all staff, other than welding personnel who may be in the vicinity of welding processes. This can be achieved by a review of the working areas, and putting in place compartmentalisation controls such as partitioning.
You can find out more about our industrial partitioning solutions, by contacting us here.
Written By Sharon Shaw
Tusker Industrial Safety is a division of Safety First Manufacturing Co Ltd. Company reg number 3213061
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