The 5 New Welding Fumes Enforcements by HSE
Welding fumes have been officially classified as a human carcinogen by the The Health and Safety Executive (HSE). As a result, there have been stringent measures enforced. What does that mean for factories and for the health of the welders? In this article, you can read more about the new enforcements and about the available fume extraction and filtration equipment at the moment.
Welding Fume Hazards to Health
Reducing the health hazard caused by exposure to welding fumes has been has been high on the agenda for many governments and industrial bodies in the last few years. In the long term and in severe exposure, released vapours and gases may lead to serious health problems when welding. Some of those problems are:
- Pneumonia - welders are mainly susceptible to lung infections due to the daily breathing in of welding fumes. 40-50 welders yearly are estimated to be hospitalized. Each year 2 welders are killed by pneumonia in the UK.
- Occupational asthma – Stainless steel contains two elements that can cause asthma - chromium oxide (CrO3) and Nickel Oxide. On average 9 welders get severe asthma each year. 
- Cancer – as of the February 2019 safety alert from HSE, welding fumes have been classified as carcinogenic.
- Metal fume fever – metal fume fever relates to having symptoms usually related to fever after welding.
- Temporary reduced lung function – Prolonged exposure to welding fumes can lead to decrease in lung capacity, causing shortness of breath.
- Lung and throat irritation – dry throat, tickling, coughing and tight feeling in the chest are symptoms for throat and lung irritation associated with welding work. These can be experienced after both MIG and TIG welding. Long-lasting exposure to ozone (TIG welding) can even lead to pulmonary oedema.
All these illnesses are preventable when exposure to the hazardous fumes is controlled.
HSE New 5 Enforcement Expectations for Welding Fumes
The new enforcement by HSE apply to all welding activities for all kinds of companies, including self-employed welders, and in all industries where welding is required.
HSE has placed the following expectations upon:
- Adequately working LEV (Local Exhaust Ventilation) installation for indoor welding
- Suitable welding fume control must be provided for all welding activities, regardless of the duration and including outdoor welding.
- Where LEV alone is not sufficient, it has to be complemented by Respiratory protective equipment (RPE), such as PAPR units for each welder.
- All respiratory and filtration equipment used must be tested, working, properly used and well maintained.
- Any RPE undertaken must be effective as part of an RPE programme.
What is the best option for your welding facility?
In this section, we outline the most common LEV solutions and what are the applications each one is best suited for.
Best application for: General welding and grinding
This equipment protects the operator very efficiently and is recommended for basically any welding application , especially when a centralized ventilation is not possible as in outdoor applications. RPEs protect the welder only. When using RPE indoor, you must also think about an indoor ventilation / filtration system, as per the enforcements by HSE.
See respiratory protection equipment here.
Best application for: All Welding application
On-torch is one of the most modern and advanced ways to protect welders from hazardous particulate, whilst also keeping the surrounding air clean. This is the most efficient method for fume extraction. The on-torch extraction starts working as soon as the welder strikes an arc and up to 95% of the fume is extracted right at the source. Protecting both the welder and people who may also be working in the surrounding area.
See on-torch extraction here.
Best application for: Mobile filtration equipment is typically used for welding and grinding applications at a work place.
See mobile filtration here.
4. Welding benches
Best application for: Used for both welding and grinding applications.
Best application for: Best used in combination with work bench
See extraction arms here.
See more turnkey fume extractor solutions.
Still not sure?
Translas supplies turnkey solutions, including all of the abovementioned equipment. If you are still unsure what equipment will be most effective for your application and facility, get in touch with one of our experts via the button below: