HSE issues welding warning

25 February 2020

Great Britain – The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued a reminder that companies must protect their workers from the risks from welding fume. The HSE is undergoing a programme of inspections following a February 2019 safety alert. New evidence showed that exposure to mild steel welding fume can cause cancer.

Construction companies have been encouraged to peruse the HSE’s revised guidance: https://www.hse.gov.uk/welding/index.htm?utm_source=press.hse.gov.uk&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=Welding&utm_term=inspections&utm_content=revised-guidance

The HSE stated: “To protect your workers’ health, you must ensure you have adequate controls in place to avoid or reduce exposure to welding fume. Employers should be using local exhaust ventilation where effective and provide suitable respiratory protective equipment where necessary to protect workers in the metal fabrication industry from inhaling fumes.”

The study referred to was by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. It showed that exposure to mild steel welding fume can cause lung cancer and possibly kidney cancer in humans. More information can be found here: http://publications.iarc.fr/569?utm_source=press.hse.gov.uk&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=Welding&utm_term=inspections&utm_content=scientific-evidence

John Rowe, Head of Manufacturing at HSE said: “Employers and workers should know the risk, plan their work and use the right controls when welding activity is carried out. If they are not HSE will use enforcement to bring about improvements.”

“It is our mission that all workers are protected and are not made ill or killed by their work. Everyone should be able to leave work and go home healthy and safe.”