HSE are now adopting the stance that all welding fume, including mild steel welding fume, can cause lung cancer based on new scientific evidence from the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
As a result, the HSE have issued a Safety Bulletin via their website outlining the changes to their enforcement expectations for all welding fume.
The HSE have decided that general ventilation alone will not achieve the necessary control of welding fume and that control of the cancer risk will require suitable engineering controls for all indoor welding activities e.g. Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV), and where LEV does not fully control exposure it should be supplemented by adequate and suitable respiratory protective equipment (RPE) to protect against the residual welding fume.
It should also be noted that RPE must be provided for welding outdoors and that welders are suitably instructed and trained in the use of these controls.
The 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.
Risk assessments should reflect these changes in the expected control measures.
These changes are taking place with immediate effect, which means that you need to ensure you are compliant today!
We strongly advise that you take the following actions as, in light of these changes, there will almost certainly be enforcement visits:
- Ensure that effective engineering control measures are put in place to reduce exposure to any welding fume.
- Make sure suitable controls are provided for all welding activities including outdoor welding.
- Where engineering controls alone cannot control exposure, suitable RPE should be provided.
- Thoroughly examine and test all engineering controls, where required, and make sure they are used correctly and well maintained.
- Make sure any RPE is subject to an RPE programme to ensure that it is effective in protecting the wearer.
If you have any concerns or questions regarding this news and would like to speak to a professional Health and Safety Consultant, then please give us a call on 0845 2626 260