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HSE raised control standard for welding fumes

If you undertake welding – whether regularly or occasionally – in your workplace, you need to be aware that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has recently raised the control standards for welding fumes. 

Why has this been done?

This change follows an announcement from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) who have classified welding fumes and UV radiation from welding as Group 1 carcinogens. All forms of welding fume can cause cancer* and in recent times the HSE have been focusing much, much more on the health side of Health & Safety. So operations that generate harmful fumes and dusts as part of their work processes are very much under the spotlight. 

What does this mean for you?

The raised control standards mean that:

  • Indoor welding tasks require the use of Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV).  If LEV is unable to control fume capture then Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) is also required.
  • Outdoor welding requires the use of Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE).

Is this a legal requirement?

Yes. Enforcement of the raised control standards is with immediate effect under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Heath Regulations 2002 (COSHH) Regulation 7.

Where can I find help or more information?

The HSE will issue a Safety Alert in the near future and control requirements will be communicated through the HSE website. You are advised to follow guidance in the BOHS Welding Fume Control Selector Tool available on the Breathe Freely website. 

If you would like some direct support from a Health & Safety professional, Sutton Winson will be pleased to help. E-mail or contact Martin Coppard on 0330 008 5555.

*Source: IOSH

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Category: Risk Management

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