Working in welding? Here’s what you need to know…

As you may know, the welding industry and operatives have been impacted by new regulatory change governing the sector, which came into play in January. On the fourteenth of January 2019, the UK Health & Safety Executive (HSE) disclosed a reform for welders which is designed to enhance safety for welding operatives, through revisions to fume standards on the job. As we support a great number of sectors who undertake welding regularly as part of their role, we thought we’d bring you the low-down on what the new regulatory change comprises, and how it may affect you.

LEV reform heralds enhanced safety measures

The HSE has shared raised enforced control measures for all welding operatives in the UK with the Industry and Regulatory Forum on Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV). The information followed preceding announcements with the International Agency for Research on Cancer, who published that welding fumes and the associated UV radiation linked to the process as Group 1 carcinogens. This announcement was triggered by a published article in the Lancet (dating back to October 2017), which found that molybdenum trioxide and indium tin oxide – both materials commonly used in the industry – were carcinogenic.

Got it – so what are the risks?

According to the published research findings, all fumes associated with the welding process have the potential to cause cancer. As a result, the researchers advocated strict controls which include mandatory use of LEV for all indoor tasks involving welding. In the event that LEV alone is unable to provide sufficient controls for fumes issuing from the process, then operatives are required to use Respiratory Protective Equipment.

For all outdoor welding, it is now required that operatives deploy Respiratory Protective Equipment for the process. This became mandatory with immediate effect, under COSHH Regulation no.7.

Safety alert issued

The HSE will be issuing a Safety alert to ensure that operatives and their employers adhere to the new regulatory best practice, and will publish all communications relating to the risks and how to mitigate them through their website. They are also responsible for releasing a comprehensive intervention plan to provide guidance and support for all operatives in sectors where welding features in their role.

For operatives, this will mean ensuring that your employer provides you with the right PPE to undertake welding jobs safely. For duty holders, this means that you are required to adhere to the guidance provided.

 

For more information for duty holders, the BOHS Welding Fume Control Selector Tool (available on the Breathe Freely website), provides a comprehensive guideline on the requirements you are expected to follow. This web-tool is designed to complement the information on the ‘Breathe Freely in Manufacturing’ webpages. It provides guidance on welding fume control for common welding tasks. A panel of experts from industry, consultancies, academia and the HSE formed a working group to create this web-tool in order to inform managers and supervisors of welders about the best welding fume controls available to protect their health.

 

Michael Edwards, the OSH Content Developer who represents IOSH on the LEV committee has commented: “These changes to control standards for welding fumes currently only affect members working within the UK and will have implications to a whole range of different industries where welding operations occur. For those members outside of the UK, we can expect that your local regulators may also extend their enforcement position in the future, as this is based on evidence from an international agency.

 

“IOSH recommends that all members in the UK review current welding control measures in place to ascertain that they meet these raised control standards. This may also mean that risk assessments and risk registers may need updating to ensure that they reflect the new requirements. “Members who provide advice to external clients must also be aware of these changes to ensure that they advise them on the correct controls for the type of welding operation.”

 

If you would like to learn more about the PPE which we provide to ensure your compliance with the new legislation, please get in touch with one of our friendly team today, and we’ll discuss our range with you.

Alternatively, check out the following products, which are fully compliant with the new regulations and will keep you one step ahead when it comes to protecting your team:

Both of these respirators will safeguard your operatives from harmful fumes while they weld!