HSE revise guidance for exposure to welding fumes
Following their safety alert earlier this year, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have now updated their COSHH essentials advice sheets in relation to welding, cutting and allied jobs.
In February 2019 the HSE announced the introduction of enforced control measures for welding operations following the classification of welding fumes and UV radiation as a Group one carcinogenic.
All welding fume, no matter how small the amount, has the potential to cause lung cancer, so employers must ensure appropriate controls are put in place to control the risk.
Employers should consider the following order of controls for welding fumes:
- – avoidance or reduction of exposure;
- – exhaust ventilation (LEV) where work can’t be avoided;
- – respiratory protective equipment (RPE), where LEV can’t achieve adequate controls alone or is not reasonably practicable;
- – personal protective equipment (PPE) for workers undertaking any welding task.
All control measures must be maintained to ensure workers are protected from health risks and a series of health surveillance should be ongoing to monitor employee health.
As with anything related to workplace health and safety, employers must sure employees are properly trained and made aware of the risks posed by welding fumes, along with the appropriate controls in place to minimise the risks.
The revised advice sheets for welding help employers assess and control risks from hazardous substances in the workplace. They describe good practice for controlling exposure to welding fume and allied processes.
They consist of:
- WL0 – Advice for managers;
WL2 – Welding in confined/limited/restricted spaces;
WL3 – Welding fume control;
WL14 – Manual gas and oxy-gas cutting;
WL15 – Plasma arc cutting: fixed equipment;
WL16 – Arc-air gouging (air-carbon gouging);
WL18 – Surface preparation: pressure blasting (small items);
WL19 – Surface preparation: pressure blasting (medium-sized items);
WL20 – Surface preparation: pressure blasting (large items);
WL21 – Weld cleaning with pickling paste.