Did you know that all fumes from welding can cause lung cancer? It’s the strong word nobody wants to hear in the doctor’s office. Additional illnesses include asthma, COPD, Welder’s Lung and unfortunately many more. As an employer it’s your responsibility by law to ensure all those working for you are fully protected. From specialist welders to those performing minimal amounts, you must ensure their safety at all times.
How can risks be controlled?
There are a number of methods to consider when controlling fumes. If you need any help actioning any of the following points then please contact our health and safety specialists at PUWER.
- Employ Alternative Cold Joining techniques
- Investigate welding methods that produce less fumes
- Consider implementation of LEV (local exhaust ventilation
- Obtain Protective Respiratory Equipment
- Ensure maximum ventilation measures
- Train welders fully on risks and the use of controls
Risks can further be successfully controlled by employing the following methods:
Avoid or Reduce Exposure: How could alternative methods facilitate a reduction in fume inhalation? Are there different ways of tackling specific tasks that you have not yet considered such as automating the process or reducing the amount of welding required? Investigate the materials you’re currently using. Could these be swapped for something that emits less?
LEV: Local Exhaust Ventilation Systems are ideal for indoor use protecting both the welder and those around them. Known as fume control air flow helps in the removal of contaminated air. There are a number of different types of LEV including on-torch extraction and movable LEV.
Suitable Equipment: If LEV is not a feasible option for your team, secondary measures must be in place. Respiratory protective equipment is essential in this scenario and there are different types available. An FFP3 disposable mask or battery powered air-fed equipment is ideal for working across long periods of time. It’s imperative to make sure welders are clean shaven and you must provide face-fit testing for them.
Maintaining Exposure Controls
Once you have the right levels of protection in place for welders and workers these are required to be maintained. Be sure to follow relevant instructions on every piece of equipment used whilst keeping it in working order at all times. Again, these jobs as a manager or company owner are your responsibility. Should a fault be noticed it MUST be sent for repair immediately. LEV systems need to be assessed at least every 14 months and records kept based upon such assessments. Finally, review controls should anything alter within the workplace.