Welding and Fume Compliance

What is it and why does it matter?

It’s long been known there are acute and chronic health risks associated with welding fume. Occupational lung disease, including lung cancer, is the most common health risk, but it can also affect eyes and skin of both those doing the welding and people nearby too.

Additional scientific evidence from the International Agency for Research on Cancer found that exposure to even mild steel welding fume can also cause lung cancer and kidney cancer in humans. This has led the Workplace Health Expert Committee to reclassify mild steel welding fume as a human carcinogen, alongside all other fume.

In response in February 2019, the HSE strengthened its enforcement expectation for welding fume to include mild steel welding. It will now not accept any welding to be undertaken without suitable exposure control measures in place.

Welding ventilation

All businesses undertaking welding activities must ensure effective engineering controls are provided and are correctly used to control fume arising from those welding activities.  This typically means the use of Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) for any indoor welding activity and the use of Repository Protective Equipment (RPE) for all outdoor welding.

What action is required?

Businesses undertaking any welding activity must comply with the following:

  • make sure exposure to any welding fume released is adequately controlled using engineering controls, typically Local Exhaust Ventilation (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 Respiratory Protective Equipment is subject to an RPE programme which encapsulates all the elements of RPE use you need to ensure that your RPE is effective in protecting the wearer

More detailed information can be found at the HSE site

What are the consequences of not having LEV and RPE equipment in place?

Any business found not to be adhering to the enforcement, directly risks exposing employees to highly harmful carcinogens and face potentially significant fines for breaches of health and safety law due to the risk of harm created by the breach.

What solutions can Bison Direct provide?

We’re working with leading welding equipment manufacturers, Translas and Vanterm, who both share our commitment to reducing welders’ exposure to hazardous fumes and helping businesses provide a healthier and safer work environment for all their employees.

We’re stocking a selection of their range of pioneering products designed to safely extract welding fumes at source, as well as mobile on-torch extraction units. And we’re delighted to be the sole UK distributor of the Vanterm PM mobile filter units too.

You can find more information on our welding fume extraction equipment and the quality of their fume filtration here. 

We’re confident that our LEV equipment is amongst the best available, but ensuring you have the right LVD equipment with the exact extraction effectiveness for your workshop can be a complex issue. Our expert team are happy to advise on the equipment options to ensure you have the right solution. We can also arrange on-site demonstrations of Translas mobile units.

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