The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced changes in the enforcement expectation for all welding fume following new scientific data.
Evidence reveals exposure to mild steel welding fume can cause lung cancer and possibly kidney cancer in humans.
The evidence was produced by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Following the research, HSE has announced changes with immediate effect because general ventilation does not achieve the necessary control.
The Workplace Health Expert Committee has endorsed the reclassification of mild steel welding fume as a human carcinogen.
Action you are required to take
- Make sure exposure to any welding fume released is adequately controlled using engineering controls, typically Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV).
- Ensure suitable controls are provided for all welding activities, irrelevant of duration, including welding outdoors.
- Where engineering controls alone cannot control exposure, then adequate and suitable Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) should be provided to control risk from any residual fume.
- All engineering controls should be used correctly, suitably maintained and are subject to thorough examination and test where required.
- Make sure any RPE is subject to an RPE programme. An RPE programme encapsulates all the elements of RPE use. You must ensure that your RPE is effective in protecting the wearer.