The HSE have recently released revised guidance on the Exposure to Welding Safety Alert that was initially released in February 2019. According to new scientific evidence from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, exposure to even mild steel welding fumes can possible cause lung or kidney cancer. This research has led to a change in guidance.
Industry professionals should know about the strengthened control expectations for exposure to welding fumes. General ventilation no longer counts as achieving the necessary control for welding fumes – suitable engineering controls, including extraction which controls exposure to manganese, will need to be put in place. All indoor welding tasks require the use of Local Exhaust Ventilation. Employers should also provide respiratory protective equipment for both indoor and outdoor welding tasks, and necessary risk assessments should be completed.
All employees should be trained effectively, understanding the risks and knowing how to use controls. This will all help to ensure risks are minimised.
Will my business be inspected?
If your business and employees are exposed to welding fume, you should expect a visit from HSE inspectors between January – March 2020. This includes all people (whether employed or self-employed) who undertake welding activities in any industry.
The visit will ensure you’re compliant with the law and the new control expectations. You can find out more about what to expect from an inspection here. Generally speaking, the inspections will be focused on ensuring the correct Respiratory Protective Equipment and Local Exhaust Ventilation is in place, minimising exposure of fumes for workers.
How do I make sure I’m compliant?
Get in touch with our experienced health and safety consultants. They’ll provide detailed advice that will ensure you’re compliant ahead of next year’s inspection.