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welder in fume cloud

Welding Fume Health Hazard

There is new scientific evidence that exposure to mild steel welding fume can cause lung cancer and possibly kidney cancer. Mild steel welding fume has now been reclassified as a human carcinogen. Therefore, if you or your staff carry out any welding activities, you need to take action now.

New HSE Safety Standards

The Health & Safety Executive’s (HSE) enforcement expectation for all welding fume, including mild steel welding, has been strengthened because general ventilation does not achieve the necessary control. This will require suitable engineering controls for all welding activities indoors e.g. Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV). Extraction also controls exposure to manganese, which can cause neurological effects similar to Parkinson’s disease.

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.

Health Risks of Welding Fume

Welding fumes can cause both long and short term illnesses. Welders are particularly prone to lung infections that lead to pneumonia. As a restult, around 40-50 people from the industry are thought to be hospitalised, and around 2 workers die each year. While links to asthma have not been deemed concrete yet, around 9 welders a year develop asthma severe enough to claim disability benefits. Most troublingly, welding fume is a known carcinogen. Risk of cancer is not just limited to stainless still welding, but can arise from exposure to any kind of welding fume.

Read more about the various health hazards here.

We Can Help

LEV systems should be checked at least every 14 months by a competent person. You should also carry out regular checks on non-disposable filtering masks. Somerset Scientific Services provide these welding fume monitoring packages. Our personal exposure monitoring is in accordance with ISO 10822 and uses the latest in-mask sampling techniques. We assess whether your controls are effective, and enable you to take appropriate measures to keep yourself and your staff safe and healthy.

Contact us to discuss your business needs and our monitoring packages.