The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) announces important news on raised control standards for welding fumes
There is new scientific evidence from the International Agency for Research on Cancer that exposure to mild steel welding fumes can cause lung cancer and possibly kidney cancer in humans.
There is new scientific evidence from the International Agency for Research on Cancer that exposure to mild steel welding fumes can cause lung cancer and possibly kidney cancer in humans. The Workplace Health Expert Committee has endorsed the reclassification of mild steel welding fumes as a human carcinogen. As a consequence the HSE has strengthened its enforcement expectation with regard to Local Exhaust Ventilation and the provision of suitable Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) including its use when welding outdoors and employers should ensure welders are suitably instructed and trained in the use of these controls.
It is important that Employers act NOW to ensure the risks of welding fumes to employees and the general public are assessed and acted upon in accordance with the HSE’s new guidance.
- Risk Assessments should reflect the change in the expected control measures.
- Make sure exposure to any welding fume released is adequately controlled using engineering controls (typically LEV).
- Make sure suitable controls are provided for all welding activities, irrelevant of duration. This includes welding outdoors.
- Where engineering controls alone cannot control exposure, then adequate and suitable RPE should be provided to control risk from any residual fume.
- Make sure all engineering controls are correctly used, suitably maintained and are subject to thorough examination and test where required.
- Make sure any RPE is subject to an RPE programme. An RPE programme encapsulates all the elements of RPE use, you need to ensure that your RPE is effective in protecting the wearer.
The full safety alert can be found on the HSE’s website at:
If you would like to discuss this matter further please get in touch with your usual Franklands’ contact on 01332 545720.