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Controlling Exposure to Welding Fumes – HSE Announces Stricter Enforcement

August 19, 2019 | By: Victoria Owings

controlling exposure to welding fumesIn February 2019, the HSE issued a safety alert to inform employers that they are strengthening their enforcement expectations with regards to controlling exposure to welding fumes.

HSE Control Requirements

The HSE have stated that regardless of the duration of exposure, the HSE will not accept any welding being undertaken without suitable control measures being in place. The HSE control requirement expectations are:

  • Indoor welding tasks require the use of engineering controls such as Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV). If LEV is unable to control exposure, then Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) is also required.
  • Outdoor welding requires the use of Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE).

Health Risks Associated with Regularly Breathing in Welding Fumes

Some serious health conditions are linked with breathing in welding fumes including:

  • Cancer
  • Pneumonia
  • Occupational asthma
  • Metal fume fever
  • Irritation of throat and lungs
  • Temporary reduced lung function

What do employers need to do to comply with the HSE enforcement expectations?

Employers need to review their COSHH risk assessments for welding activities, ensure they are meeting the control requirements stated above and controlling exposure to welding fumes. Get expert Health and Safety advice today to protect your employees and your business.

To ensure control measures are adequate in protecting the health and well-being of welders, employers should also consult with an occupational health service provider to implement a health surveillance program.

Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE)

If RPE is required, employers must ensure that the RPE they provide is adequate and suitable for the task. Employers also need to:

  • Ensure the RPE fits the wearer
  • Train workers how to correctly use the RPE
  • Supervise workers to ensure RPE is being worn
  • Ensure RPE is being maintained in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions
  • Keep records as required by law
  • Ensure RPE is being correctly stored

If tight fitting RPE is selected, the user will need to be given a face fit test before it is worn for the first time to ensure the RPE fits the wearer properly. Our team of trained Health and Safety Consultants here at Wirehouse can carry out Face Fit Testing on your workers at your premises to ensure that the RPE that you have provided has a tight seal on the employee’s face.

Does your business meet the HSE’s expectations in relation to controlling exposure to welding fumes?

Failure to comply with the HSE safety alert could lead to the HSE fining businesses. It can also lead to long term staff absence due to ill health and personal injury compensation claims therefore it’s imperative that employers control workers exposure to welding fumes.
For further information on controlling exposure to welding fumes, contact us today on 033 33 215 005 | Email Us

About the Author
Victoria Owings
Victoria Owings
Victoria Owings, Author at Wirehouse Employer Services