Inhaling welding fume is widely known to be hazardous to health, even before the most recent HSE announcement classifying of mild steel welding fume as a human carcinogen. General ventilation does not achieve the essential welding fume exposure control. This is not an acceptable control measure.
What Is Welding Fume
Welding fume is a complex mixture of airborne particles, vapours and gases created during the welding process. The fume particles are formed from the vaporisation of molten metal, and the by-product vapours and gases can cause a wide range of adverse health effects.
Control of carcinogenic fumes requires highly effective engineering controls. Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV), allows for at-source fume extraction which prevents welding fume from spreading to the wider workplace and the worker’s breathing zone.
Weld Fume FAQ
Indoor welding tasks require the use of LEV. The HSE will no longer accept any welding undertaken without suitable exposure control measures in place as there is no known level of safe exposure.
The list of health effects is staggering therefore the need for effective exposure controls is critical:
- Suitable control measures must be applied, regardless of welding duration and including outdoors welding.
- The employer must ensure welders are suitably instructed and trained in the use of controls (e.g. LEV, RPE).
- Engineering controls must be correctly used, suitably maintained and subject to thorough examination and testing (if required under COSHH Regulation 9) and RPE must be subject to an RPE programme.
Types of LEV:
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