HSE – Welding Fume – Changes in Enforcement
In February 2019 HSE released a Press Note which advised of the new health warning status of welding fume. The main points made were:-
- New scientific evidence that exposure to all welding fume, including mild steel welding fume, can cause lung cancer.
- Also limited evidence linked to kidney cancer.
- Now a change in HSE enforcement expectations in relation to the control of exposure of welding fume, including that from mild steel welding.
- All businesses undertaking welding activities should ensure effective engineering controls are provided and correctly used to control fume arising from those welding activities.
- Where engineering controls are not adequate to control all fume exposure, adequate and suitable respiratory protective equipment (RPE) is also required to control risk from the residual fume.
- Make sure exposure to any welding fume released is adequately controlled using engineering controls (typically LEV).
- Make sure suitable controls are provided for all welding activities, irrelevant of duration. This includes welding outdoors.
- Where engineering controls alone cannot control exposure, then adequate and suitable RPE should be provided to control risk from any residual fume.
- Make sure all engineering controls are correctly used, 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 need to ensure that your RPE is effective in protecting the wearer.