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Revised guidance on the control of welding fume

28 February 2020

The Health and Safety Inspectorate (HSI) wishes to bring to the attention of all persons involved in welding, revised guidance on controlling the risk to health from breathing in welding fume. 

The revised guidance follows a Safety Bulletin issued by the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) highlighting new scientific evidence that exposure to all welding fume, including mild steel, can cause lung cancer. Due to this increased risk to worker’s health, the HSI is consequently increasing its enforcement expectation and expects all businesses undertaking welding activities to have appropriate controls in place.

The Health and Safety at Work (Jersey) Law 1989 places a duty on employers and the self-employed to ensure the health and safety of employees, and themselves, as far as is reasonably practicable.  It is important to recognise that general ventilation will not achieve the necessary control of fume required to comply with this obligation under the Law. 

Suitable engineering controls will be required for most indoor welding such as Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) which will remove the harmful fume before it enters the welder’s breathing zone.  Types of LEV include on-torch extraction; extracted booths or benches and moveable LEV.  Where LEV alone does not adequately control exposure, it should be supplemented with Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) to protect against the residual fume.

Appropriate RPE will be required for welding outdoors where LEV will not work.  Where welding regularly takes place for more than one hour, a powered respirator should be used.  For shorter duration work, a filtered half-mask or disposable mask with a protection factor of at least 20 (FFP3) will be required.  Tight-fitting RPE should be face-fitted to the wearer.  The expected control measures should be reflected in risk assessments.

In conducting risk assessments for welding, duty-holders are referred to HSE leaflet 'WL3 Welding fume control'.  This leaflet provides guidance on good control practice for welding in situations involving varying frequencies of welding and covers different types of welding such as MMA, MIG, TIG etc.

Inspectors from the HSI will be inspecting work premises where welding takes place over the coming months to check that sufficient controls are in place and that the health of workers is being protected.  When carrying out visits inspectors will compare controls in place with 'WL3 Welding fume control'.

For further advice see welding on the UK HSE website

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