23rd January 2019
Changes to UK Welding Fume Control Standards: What You Need To Know
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has recently announced some important news on raised control standards for welding fumes and their planned enforcement measures for welding operations going forward.
The reasons for the change in approach is due to an announcement from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), who have now classified welding fumes and UV radiation from welding as Group 1 carcinogens. Prior to this, welding fumes were classed as a possible carcinogenic to humans in Group 2.
As a result, the HSE plans to raise their enforcement standards when visiting businesses undertaking welding activities. Enforcement of the raised control standards is with immediate effect under COSHH Regulation 7.
We have highlighted the main precautions the HSE will be expecting to see below:-
- Indoor welding tasks require the use of Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV). If LEV is unable to control fume capture then Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) is also required.
- Both LEV and RPE will need to be suitably maintained and inspected.
- Outdoor welding requires use of RPE.
The HSE will issue a Safety Alert in the near future and control requirements will be communicated through the HSE website. They are also currently developing an intervention plan.
It is recommended that affected businesses review current welding control measures in place to ensure 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.