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2020 / 2021 Edition

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HSE to carry out inspections following safety alert

Welding fume

Employers reminded to protect workers’ health by controlling exposure to welding fume

THE Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is reminding employers that they must protect their workers’ health by controlling the risks from welding fume.

The HSE’s current programme of inspections will review health and safety standards across the country and businesses are encouraged to visit the HSE’s revised guidance to remind themselves of the changes to control expectations.

To protect workers’ health, employers must ensure they 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 inspections follow a safety alert that was issued in February 2019 after new evidence showed exposure to mild steel welding fume can cause cancer.

The HSE, which updated its guidance to reflect this, says scientific evidence from the International Agency for Research on Cancer shows that exposure to mild steel welding fume can cause lung cancer and possibly kidney cancer in humans.

John Rowe, head of manufacturing at the HSE, said: ‘Employers and workers should know the risks, plan their work and use the right controls when welding activity is carried out. If they are not, the 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.’

The HSE has a range of guidance to help protect workers including COSHH advice sheets to help control the risk from hazardous substances in welding.

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