Why has this document about welding fume been issued?
New research by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) shows that exposure to mild steel welding fume may cause lung cancer and also kidney cancer in humans. The Workplace Health Expert Committee has agreed the reclassification of fume from mild steel welding as a human carcinogen.
For this reason, welding fume is now internationally classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans (IARC classification group 2B). This classification is mainly associated with stainless steel welding, but also covers welding of other materials.
What does this mean?
The HSE are strengthening enforcement action and compliance with regards to controlling exposure to welding fume. This requires full testing to ensure that workers exposures to fumes are not at concentrations potentially hazardous to health.
In addition, businesses have been told that risk assessments should reflect the change in the HSE’s expected control measures. A key point to note now is that regardless of duration, HSE will no longer accept any welding undertaken without any suitable exposure control measures in place, as there is no known level of safe exposure. The stricter enforcement measures come after the IARC evidence showed that general ventilation does not achieve the necessary control.
What actions do I need to take?
The HSE has listed five main points of action to take control of exposure to welding fume. The initial starting point is to investigate the levels of exposure within your workplace. This provides the information to complete a risk assessment and to assess preventive measures. After an assessment of risk then appropriate RPE, LEV or alternative control measures can be put in place. As per regulation 10 in Control of substances hazardous to health regulations 2002 (as amended in 2004) – General enforcement guidance and advice, this is normally on a 12 monthly basis or when significant changes to exposure occurs.
How can Synergy Assist you?
Synergy Environmental have a highly trained team of operatives able to attend your site and carry out a welding fume assessment. This will allow you to compare your workers exposure against the values presented within EH40. We will provide you with a quantitative report with an assessment of your levels of exposure and suggestions for remedial actions. Synergy can also carry out a full and thorough test and examination of your LEV system to assess its suitability and effectiveness. We are able to provide these services at a highly competitive price whilst not compromising on professionalism or quality.
Further Information on Welding Fume and its control is available below