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New HSE Regulations For Welding Activities

Posted on: February 14, 2019
Categories: Uncategorized

By Emma Hughes, New Business Broker

This month HSE have announced new guidelines for mild steel welding fumes. This will affect all workers and employers who undertake welding activities, including mild steel, in any industry.

The Workplace Health Expert Committee has endorsed the reclassification of mild steel welding fume as a human carcinogen. This is in light of new scientific evidence that has confirmed exposure to welding fumes as a cause of lung cancer and there is also limited evidence linking the fumes to kidney cancer.

Now all businesses undertaking welding activities should ensure effective engineering controls are provided and correctly used to limit fumes arising from the welding activities. Where controls are not adequate, suitable respiratory protective equipment (RPE) should be provided and appropriate instruction/training given to all employees.

It is important to note that general venitlation does not acheive the necessary control.

HSE have outlined the following actions that will be required:

1. Make sure exposure to any welding fume released is adequately controlled using engineering controls (typically Local Exhaust Ventilation).

2. Make sure suitable controls are provided for all welding activities, irrelevant of duration. This includes welding outdoors.

3. Where engineering controls alone cannot control exposure, then adequate and suitable RPE should be provided to control risk from any residual fume.

4. Make sure all engineering controls are correctly used, suitably maintained and are subject to thorough examination and test where required.

5. 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.

References:
HSE Website

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